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Best Before-and-After Photos Award 2017 - winners

This was a new category in our Empty Homes Awards and it produced more entries than we have ever had, in any category.

Sponsorship from Cromwood Social

We also had a new sponsor, in the shape of London social housing provider Cromwood Social thanks in part to the advocacy of  Abdus Saleh, their Head of Investment and Development, who has had a long-time involvement with empty homes issues as an enabler.

Contributing to the Conference Brochure, the organisation wrote:

We at Cromwood Group have a long history of managing social housing and working with local authorities in London and Manchester. We set up Cromwood Social, headed by Abdus Saleh, to bring empty properties back into use for the use of social housing. We have partnered with financial intermediaries and created funds that can be used to acquire and/or refurbish empty properties. Our one stop service in London to owners of empty properties includes resolving probate; financing refurbishment; project managing works and management of refurbished property. We expect to expand our operations outside of London

Ireland blazes trail with Empty Homes Unit

The Irish media are reporting the announcement by Eoghan Murphy, Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Goverment, of the measures that are being taken to tackle some of the Republic's 180,000 empty homes.

The empty homes strategy itself has yet to be launched but it is a welcome approach that the infrastructre needed to implement it is already being put into place. Of particular importance is  the creation of an Empty Homes Unit within the Housing Ministry.  This has been one of the Empty Homes Network's long-standing policy proposals for the British government, which, disappointingly, has yet to receive any recognition by the political parties, whether in government or opposition. 

The fact that Ireland has created such a Unit shows that it is serious about delivery: it is hard to see how anything that warrants the name 'national strategy' can actually be delivered without such a dedicated role at national level.  The Minister is reported to have said 'We need action taken at local level, with national coordination from my Department'.

Empty homes in 'Grenfell borough' back in headlines

Empty homes in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea are back in the headlines after RKBC released a list of all the owners. According to the Guardian newspaper,the list was emailed 'by mistake' and includes the names of all the owners.

Data Protection breach?

If individuals are named in the list along with the properties they own, then it will consitute a major breach of the accepted Data Protection practice - established in the Bexley vs. English case several years ago - which is that even the addresses of the empty homes owned by individuals cannot be released, never mind the owners' names. (In the Bexley case, the Tribunal did allow the release of names of companies and addresses of the homes the companies owned). 

OTHER STORIES

Innovation Award 2017 - winners

The Innovation Award is the brainchild of Carson Millican (pictured right), trading as Empty Property Solutions Ltd. Now based in Northern Ireland, Carson gained many years’ experience of empty homes work at different London Boroughs and with the East London Regeneration Partnership and has been a stalwart member of the Empty Homes Network for many years, serving on its Executive.

In sponsoring the award, Carson explained as follows:

Calls to requisition luxury flats for Grenfell survivors

The fire at Grenfell House in Kensington and Chelsea has brought empty homes into the headlines, following Jeremy Corbyn’s  call for  unoccupied luxury flats in the borough to be requisitioned to ensure that survivors of the disaster can be housed locally.

When launching his proposal on 15th June, Corbyn explicitly situated it in the context of the supposed buy-to-leave phenomenon (which Corbyn inaccurately referred to as ‘land-banking’). He was reported to have said:

Empty Homes Practitioner of the Year 2017 - results

This is our longest-running awards category and it always attracts high quality submissions, making the choice of winners difficult.

This year, the award was sponsored and judged by Kent’s No Use Empty team, who certainly are well-equipped with all the necessary experience needed to evaluate the entries.

In the event, they selected one outright winner, and also gave a ‘highly commended’ award. The awards were presented at the Empty Homes Conference in Bimringham by Steve Grimshaw, Programme Manager, Kent County Council.

2017 Conference reaches new heights

Delegates to the 2017 Empty Homes Conference, held in Birmingham last week, gave it an average rating of 4.73 out of 5, making it the highest-scoring such event held to date.

A strong line-up of speakers was undoubtedly a big factor. Among the most popular sessions was that presented by Kerry Morgan-Gould (pictured right) and Vicki Green, of Ashfords Solicitors, about dealing with dificult Probate cases. But that was just one example from among many.

Conference salutes Chris Skinner

A very successful and well-attended Empty Homes Conference on Wednesday in Birmingham contained one poignant moment, when the delegates showed their appreciation for Chris Skinner, who sadly died in February, by offering a collective salute.

Chris  was well-known for his work as a solicitor supporting Empty Homes practitioners up and down the country over many years, particularly in the area of Compulsory Purchase.  He had also spoken at two previous conferences.

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