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38,000 long term empty properties have been brought back into use over the last two years as local authorities respond to the incentive of the New Homes Bonus. Restoration does not only make financial sense but is a way of making our country more beautiful – in contrast to John Prescott's Pathfinder programme to bulldoze Victorian terraces. That programme cost £1 billion and destroyed 10,000 homes and built 1,000.
The New Homes Bonus has also been a great help to Labur-run Islington Council in providing the flexibility to provide new homes for sale and rent on their land.
This council "build 17 new homes by converting garages and car parking space at Vulcan Way. We also plan a further 13 family homes by remodelling car-parking space at Vaudeville Court." Apart from the New homes Bonus money they will also pay for it by "capital receipts generated from disposals. We are also investigating a cross subsidy model that would enable new social rented homes to be provided through open market and shared ownership sales." I understand that the garages were eyesores and that the new homes will help "design out" crime.
There are lots of other estates in Islington with car parking spaces that are unused – becoming "vandalised no-go areas."
Here is a top tip for Islington Council they could push this programme along if instead of just selling a few shops they also sold council houses – such as the one worth £1.8 million – on the criteria suggested by Policy Exchange.
Other councils have undertaken similar initiatives to Islington. Wandsworth were the pioneers with their Hidden Homes programme. But the flexibility and incentives of the New Homes Bonus has made a crucial difference in the case of Islington, as the council acknowledges.
Hilary Benn the above example from Islington in his speech yesterday. But by an oversight failed to mention how those new homes have only come about due to the Labour Government being thrown out of office.