THOUSANDS of acres of land should be built on to stop the North East from becoming “a housing time bomb”, experts have warned.
Brownfield sites at Spillers Quay, Newcastle, St George’s Park Hospital in Morpeth, Northumberland, Seaham Colliery and Homelands Hospital at Crook, both in County Durham, have been targeted as prime redevelopment land by the National Housing Federation in a bid to stop a looming North East housing crisis.
Their recommendations come as politicians and housing leaders meet at a crisis summit in Tyneside today to discuss the scale of the housing problem in the region.
Monica Burns, North East lead manager for the National Housing Federation, said: “The lack of affordable housing is a tragedy for families across the North East who are helplessly watching as the cost of renting or buying a home spirals out of reach.
“At the same time we know that various Government departments currently own disused land, such as derelict hospitals and disused schools, which could and should be used to build more homes.”
Today the federation launches their campaign for the release of publicly owned but disused brownfield land to housing associations so they can build more homes.
At Spillers Quay in Newcastle they say there is space for 98 homes on city council owned land.
In Morpeth they believe a 83-hectare site at St George’s Park Hospital could yield 3,820 homes.
At Seaham Colliery a 14-hectare site could provide 665 homes, just 35 short of the 700 new homes Durham County Council would like to see in the area by 2030.
The derelict Homeland Hospital could also potentially yield 75 homes if housing associations were granted use of the site.
Much of the brownfield land they suggest using in the North East and nationwide is currently owned by the Government’s departments of defence, health, transport or education.
Monica added: “The North East has the weakest economy in the country and action is needed now to help an entire generation who are struggling to find work.
“Building new homes and renovating existing ones is the quickest and most effective way to boost a local economy where we know construction is suffering. This would help solve the North East’s housing crisis and create desperately needed jobs.”
Their report Home Truths: North East released at today’s summit in Gateshead found that more than 91,900 households across the region are currently on waiting lists for desperately needed social housing.
Only two thirds of the new homes needed are being built every year and the region’s house prices have risen three times faster than earnings in the past decade.
The report also found that local authorities nationally accepted 1,800 households as homeless in 2011/12 with housing associations at the sharp end of providing emergency accommodation.