Renovating empty homes and making them liveable doesn’t just help find homes for people, it’s also much more sustainable than building brand-new homes.
Currently, buildings and construction are responsible for 39% of worldwide carbon emissions. Renovation of housing offers the chance to reduce this figure by reducing overall construction.
But where are people struggling to find homes the most, and which parts of the country have the greatest number of vacant properties?
If you’re looking to buy a home, whether that’s a new build or existing property, be sure to compare first-time buyers' mortgages first to get the best rates.
Where there are a low number of dwellings per 100,000 people, a housing shortage is likely - meaning there are too few homes for the number of residents.
Newham, London, recorded a population of 355,266 in 2020, compared to 120,347 dwellings, meaning Newham has the lowest number of dwellings per 100,000 people at 33,875. Newham lies just north of the River Thames and has the worst dwelling-to-population ratio in the whole of the UK.
Redbridge, also in London, has the second lowest number of dwellings per 100,000 people at 34,454. Redbridge has 105,312 dwellings to accommodate its population of 305,658. Host to more than 35 parks, playgrounds and open spaces, Redbridge is an ideal area for families.
Barking & Dagenham ranks as the authority with the third lowest dwellings per 100,000 people at 35,762. This London authority has 76,570 dwellings for a population of 214,107. A significant proportion of the housing available in Barking & Dagenham was constructed during the interwar period between 1921–1939.
|Rank||Local authority||Per 100,000 people|
|3||Barking & Dagenham||35,762|
|15||Kingston upon Thames||38,101|
We’ve looked at which part of the UK has the most significant housing shortages, but which areas have the most empty houses? Comparing the total number of vacant dwellings with the total number of dwellings in the UK, the authorities with the highest percentage of empty dwellings are:
Na h-Eileanan Siar has the highest percentage of empty dwellings in the UK, at 13%. In real terms, this means that of the 15,000 dwellings in Na h-Eileanan Siar, 2,000 are empty. Also known as the Outer Hebrides or Western Isles, Na h-Eileanan Siar covers an island chain off the west coast of Scotland.
Argyll & Bute, Scotland, has 5,000 empty dwellings. With a total of 48,000 dwellings in this authority, one in ten of Argyll & Bute’s dwellings stands vacant. Argyll & Bute is the second-largest administrative area in Scotland and its border runs through Loch Lomond.
The Orkney and Shetland Islands, also both located in Scotland, share the title of having the third-highest percentage of empty dwellings in the UK. Both authorities have 11,000 dwellings, with 1,000 in each remaining unused. There are around 170 islands in total within the Orkney Islands and the Shetland Islands archipelagos.
|Rank||Local authority||Vacant Properties (%)|
|1||Na h-Eileanan Siar||13.30%|
|2||Argyll & Bute||10.40%|
|7||Dumfries & Galloway||6.70%|
|12||Perth & Kinross||5.40%|
While Scotland dominates the leaderboard of authorities with the most empty houses, the East Midlands and London contain the bulk of those authorities where there are very few empty houses available.
Corby, East Midlands, ranks as the authority with the lowest percentage of empty dwellings. With a total of 30,213 dwellings in this authority, just 165 are currently empty. This is a tiny 0.5% of the total number of properties. Corby is well known for its Scottish heritage. In the decades following the war, many steelworkers migrated to Corby from Scotland and for a time, it was known as "Little Scotland".
In London, Wandsworth reports an empty dwelling percentage of 0.7%. Wandsworth has a massive 149,390 dwellings, the third highest in London, but only 1,076 are currently empty. Wandsworth is one of the major centres in Greater London, with many new and refurbished buildings along the riverside, including the large Chelsea Bridge Wharf.
Hammersmith & Fulham has the third smallest percentage of empty houses. This London borough has over 90,000 dwellings but only 0.8% are empty; which is just 751 properties. Hammersmith & Fulham is one of the four most expensive London boroughs for property, alongside Kensington and Chelsea, the City of Westminster, and Camden.
|Rank||Local authority||Vacant (%)|
|3||Hammersmith & Fulham||0.80%|
|13||Barking & Dagenham||1.60%|
Affordable properties will be at the top of many people’s lists when they begin searching for a new home. Whether it's your first step on the housing ladder, or you’re looking to expand to fit a growing family, you will want to make sure you’re getting the most out of your money, But where are you most likely to find the most affordable homes compared to total dwellings?
Affordable housing is defined here as “housing for sale or rent, for those whose needs are not met by the market”. This includes housing that provides a subsidised route to home ownership and/or is designated for essential local workers. Affordable housing is generally provided by the government.
East Lothian, Scotland, lands the title for the most affordable homes.The area has the most housing for sale or rent, for those whose needs are not met by the market, per 100,000 dwellings at 187. East Lothian has 917 affordable homes compared to a total of 49,000 dwellings in the authority. East Lothian is mostly rural and enjoys 40 miles of coastline.
Midlothian, Scotland, comes in second, with 157 affordable homes per 100,000 dwellings. Midlothian has a total of 41,000 dwellings, and 643 of them are affordable homes. Midlothian borders the city of Edinburgh and the Scottish Borders.
Perth & Kinross has a massive 74,000 dwellings and 1,106 are affordable homes. This gives this Scottish authority a solid rate of 149 affordable homes per 100,000 dwellings. The stunning nature of north Perth & Kinross makes tourism a key player in its economy.
|Rank||Local authority||Per 10,000 dwellings|
|3||Perth & Kinross||149|
|16||Na h-Eileanan Siar||83|
New builds are an important indicator of the future availability of housing. Locations where the growth of new build homes is faster than the growth of the population are likely to have the best supply of housing for their future populations.
Maldon, sitting in the East of England, has seen a rapid increase in new builds over the last five years, going from just 30 new homes to 490. In comparison, Maldon’s population has increased steadily from 62,743 to 65,401 over the same period. Therefore, new builds in Maldon have increased by 1,529% more than the increase in Maldon’s population. Maldon is perhaps most known for its production of Maldon Sea Salt, which has been produced in the area since 1882.
Over in the West Midlands, Tamworth has seen a massive 817% increase in new builds in recent years, from 60 in 2015 to 550 in 2020.Tamworth’s population actually decreased very slightly over the same period, meaning there are plenty of vacant homes available. Tamworth takes its name from the River Tame, which runs through its center.
In the South East, West Oxfordshire saw a slight increase in its population of 3%. This is compared to a massive 677% increase in completed new builds, from 130 in 2015 to 1,010 in 2020. West Oxfordshire, therefore, saw a 674% larger increase in new builds than in the population during the five years recorded. This authority is mostly rural, with farming the main trade of the area.
Locations where the growth of new build homes is slower than the growth of the population are likely to have a short supply of housing for their future populations. The following locations have the least new homes compared to their population growth:
The City of London completed 160 new builds in 2015, however, none were completed in 2020, a 100% decrease. The City of London’s population on the other hand increased by a massive 25%. The City of London is the smallest ceremonial county in the United Kingdom and forms part of the primary central business district.
Adur in the South East also saw a 100% reduction in the number of new build homes completed over this duration. There were none built in 2020 compared to 70 in 2015. Adur’s population has only increased by 1% over the same period. However, this means that Adur’s population still increased by 101% more than its available new build homes. Adur is named after its main river, the Adur river.
London’s Hackney reports a 94% larger increase in population than in new builds. Having seen a decrease of 89% drop in completed new builds, from 920 in 2015 to 100 in 2020, Hackney has also reported a growth in its population of 4% over the same period. Interestingly, there are 1,300 listed buildings in Hackney. These include the Hackney Empire, Tudor Sutton House, and the Grade I medieval St Augustine's Tower.
Affordable housing is housing provided by the government to help people afford a home who otherwise would struggle to get on the property ladder. East Lothian in Scotland has the most affordable housing for its population. For every 100,000 dwellings, East Lothian offers 187 affordable homes.
As of 23 June 2022, there are 767,199 empty homes in the UK. Birmingham has the highest number of empty homes with 12,654 vacant dwellings.
There will likely be housing shortages in parts of the UK where new builds are increasing at a slower rate than the population. Should the population increase much faster than the new builds, there will be a continuous decrease in the level of housing available for the population.
The City of London will likely encounter a housing shortage soon. Population in the City of London has risen by 25% in the last five years, compared to its construction of new builds which has decreased by 100% over the same period.
The number of dwellings in each local authority was recorded from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government’s live tables on dwelling stock, The Scottish Government’s Housing statistics: Stock by tenure, StatsWales’ dwelling stock estimates, and The Northern Irish Department of Finance’s housing stock statistics.
The number of houses per 100,000 people and % of vacant dwellings was calculated for each area using the Office for National Statistics’ mid-2020 estimates of the population for the UK, England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The number of affordable houses and the total dwelling stock was recorded from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government’s live tables on affordable housing supply, the Scottish Government’s housing statistics quarterly update: new housebuilding and affordable housing supply, and StatsWales’ Affordable Housing Provision in Wales, 2020-21 statistical release.
Affordable housing is defined here as: “Housing for sale or rent, for those whose needs are not met by the market (including housing that provides a subsidised route to home ownership and/or is for essential local workers).” A full definition can be found in the Housing statistics and English Housing Survey glossary.
The number of new build properties that have been completed in each local authority was recorded from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities’ housing supply: indicators of new supply, England: April to June 2022, the Scottish Government’s housing statistics quarterly update: new housebuilding and affordable housing supply, StatsWales’ new house building data, and the Northern Irish Department of Finance’s new dwelling statistics.