The number of private residential properties sitting empty in Wales has increased by 40 per cent – or 27,000.

Homeless charity Shelter Cymru, who brought the statistics to public attention, have criticised local authorities. They insist that councils should have put into place statutory powers to claim the properties and use them to re-house individuals and families. The Scottish Government already does this by auctioning off empty properties. Meanwhile, the Welsh Government says it has already handed over £40m to councils for this very purpose.

John Puzey, director of the housing charity Shelter Cymru, is frustrated at the variation in policy and practises of local councils. He said councils had ‘empty dwelling management orders’ and ‘compulsory purchase orders’ but didn’t use them. The reason for this, he surmised, was “possibly a lack of expertise or concern that they might get it wrong.”

Statistics from the government’s Data Cymru showed there were 27,213 empty private homes in Wales last year. In 2010 that figure was 18,980.

But even if all 27,213 homes were brought into use, a member of Community Housing Cymru said it would only meet housing need for a couple of years.

By 2021, in a bid to attempt to deal with its current housing shortage crisis, the Welsh Government has built 20,000 affordable homes. This is to satisfy the need for an additional 114,000 homes over the next two decades. Of this figure, it’s planned that 3,900 of new homes will be earmarked for affordable or council housing. Large cities and towns to benefit from Urban Regeneration plans include Cardiff and Newport, as well as the Valleys; Swansea Bay and Llanelli; Wrexham and Deeside.

Developer provides a ‘packaged deal’ to housing provider

Meanwhile, housing provider ClwydAlyn has teamed up with Anwyl Construction to build 30 high-quality older person living apartments.

Based in Connah’s Quay, in North Wales the project is a £3.1m contract to build one and two-bedroom apartments in accordance with Welsh DQR design Guidelines. Anwyl Construction presented a ‘package’ to the housing provider after acquiring the land, securing planning permission and vowing to carry out all construction works.

Tom Anwyl, Managing Director of Anwyl Construction explained how their ‘whole package’ method of construction was one they planned to use for future projects. They plan to tackle further afield in Wales and the North West of England at a later stage.

“This is one of the first schemes that we have developed under our new ‘turnkey’ approach where we partner with a housing provider to identify a site, acquire the land, secure planning and deliver the build,” he said.

“In effect, we are able to present a complete package and solution to registered housing providers, supporting them in the often complex and challenging route to delivering new homes.”