Oldham has the worst "empty homes" record in Greater Manchester
The Greater Manchester: Strategic Housing Market Assessment (2019; pp. 150–151) highlights Oldham MB’s appalling vacant home record. With over 3 percent (2,893) of all homes in Oldham MB vacant as of 2017, Oldham has the worst record in the whole of Greater Manchester. And with nearly 40 percent of those ongoing, Oldham also has the worst record for long-term empty homes, which stands at 1,126 dwellings as of 2017.
It is obvious from the data that Oldham and some of the other boroughs could address a sizeable chunk of local need with vacant properties. The 2016 draft of the GMSF (pp. 186–187) factored this in, and calculated that bringing vacant homes back into circulation offset Oldham’s housing need by over 500 homes. It explains its rationale as follows: “The amendment means that in the areas which have more vacant dwellings there would be an expectation that some of the household need would be met by the reuse of vacant dwellings.”
As flawed as the 2016 draft was, its commitment to tackling the vacant homes problem was a welcome and positive aspect. Unfortunately the 2019 draft of the GMSF does not factor vacant homes into its Local Housing Need methodology, and no explanation is provided for this inconsistency with the 2016 draft. This is a disappointing backwards step for the 2019 draft.