MoD urged to use empty homes to tackle Fife housing shortage

Councillor Tim Brett
Councillor Tim Brett

Empty properties owned by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in Fife should be released to help tackle the region’s housing crisis, according to a local councillor.

Figures released by the MoD have revealed that there are 221 military homes currently lying empty in the region, where RAF Leuchars was closed and handed to the army in 2015, even though there are said to be more than 10,000 people on the housing waiting list in the Kingdom.

The 221 properties – most of which are in Leuchars – are among the 10,219 homes across the UK classed as “void” by the MoD, which means they are either unallocated, being maintained, refurbished or waiting to be sold or demolished.

Nearly half of those – 4,623 – have been empty for more than 12 months.

Local councillor Tim Brett said he had been aware of the situation at Leuchars for some time and hopes some sort of proposal can be drawn up to address the issue.

“I would certainly hope that the council would be able to acquire surplus accommodation at Leuchars given the very lengthy waiting lists we have for housing in north east Fife,” he told The Courier.

“The council did purchase MoD properties in Warwick Close some years ago and the Hampden Close estate opposite there is nearly all empty.

“I appreciate that the MoD wants to retain some flexibility as there are still some army personnel to come back from Germany but I would have thought that they would be in a position to dispose of a significant amount of stock.”

Alasdair Christie, from the Citizens Advice Bureau, echoed those sentiments, adding: “From a Citizen’s Advice perspective, I would like to see the government of any shade take properties left empty for an unreasonable length of time and put them back into use.

“It is not just the MoD. You often find it with police houses and religious houses for ministers.”

An MOD spokeswoman said they manage around 19,000 family moves in the UK each year.

She said: “In order to achieve this, a management margin of void properties is held.

“This ensures that homes are available for families when required and allows improvement works to take place between occupants.

“The MoD queues houses for families instead of the other way round. Properties may be held over a period of time for a planned future requirement, for example a major unit moving to a new base.

“Alternatively, those properties may not be currently required because of their location, size or type but must be held to ensure that future demand can be met.”

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