Almost 1,300 homes in Wokingham borough are unoccupied in as almost 1,500 desperate families wait for a home.

Nearly half of these properties are classed as ‘long-term’ empty, meaning they have been unoccupied for more than six months.

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One house, on Reading Road in Winnersh, has been vacant for 27 years.

Bracknell News:

Chris Bailey, from Action on Empty Homes, said: “We have seen national numbers rise three years running, with big rises in London and the South East, despite relatively high levels of new home construction.

“This calls into question if we are building the right housing to solve our national housing crisis."

According to government data, 1,498 families are registered on Wokingham borough's housing list and being made to wait for a home.

Chris added: “It is time the government did the maths and gave hard-pressed councils the investment and powers to allow them to get more of these homes back into use faster.

“Now as construction will slow and markets falter amid the corona crisis, it is all the more important that we use the homes that we have already built better and more efficiently.

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“We simply can't afford to let over 220,000 much-needed homes [nationally] to continue to go to waste across England."

Of the 1,299 homes empty in Wokingham borough as of February 2020, 315 had been unoccupied for more than a year and 83 had been vacant for two years or more.

Despite having a large number of tenant-less homes, Wokingham borough has fewer empty properties than neighbouring authority Reading, which has 1,500.

Bracknell News:

To the east, Bracknell Forest has 1,153 unoccupied homes.

There are a number of reasons why homes might become unused.

Problems including ownership issues, the high cost of refurbishment, owners sitting on properties as investment opportunities and more could lead to a home becoming empty.

Wokingham Borough Council, like many other local authorities, charges a 100 per cent council tax premium on empty homes.

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A page on the council’s website reads: “We have made this decision in line with many other authorities under the Council Tax (Empty Dwellings) Act 2018.

Bracknell News:

“This decision was made to reduce the number of long term empty properties in the borough and get them back into use for local people.”

Wokingham Borough Council was contacted for comment.