Call to refurbish derelict homes

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The Independent Online

Thousands of derelict homes in the North of England should be refurbished to help kick-start the stalled economic recovery, an influential think-tank says.

The Centre for Cities also calls for a massive house-building programme in the 10 areas worst hit by housing shortages, all in the South.

Its annual Cities Outlook report warns that Britain is building 100,000 fewer homes each year than is required.

The Centre identifies 10 areas blighted by high numbers of empty homes in need of renovation.

Burnley, where more than seven per cent of properties are vacant, tops the list. It is followed by Bradford, Hull, Blackpool, Dundee, Leeds, Liverpool, Bolton, Blackburn and Birkenhead.

The Centre also lists 10 cities in most need of house-building. Oxford – where the average house costs around £380,000 – has the least affordable properties. It is followed by London, Cambridge, Brighton, Bournemouth, Aldershot, Crawley, Reading, Bristol and Worthing.

Building an extra 100,000 homes a year could create 150,000 jobs and provide a one per cent boost to the economy, the Centre says. Its chief executive, Alexandra Jones, said: "For some cities, lack of housing prevents people accessing jobs or means they are stuck in cramped accommodation. In other cities, incentives to retrofit empty houses could improve local quality of life."