KE Collaborative R&D Case Study

Project title - "DIY regeneration: turning empty houses into homes through homesteading"

This project has generated more interest in homesteading as a possible solution to the problem of empty properties, which could benefit neighbourhood regeneration initiatives in many former industrial areas in northern England. We hope further collaboration can influence future policy development.

Dr lee crookes

 

Project partners

Dr Lee Crookes

Department of Town and Regional Planning

Win Greenhalgh

Department of Town and Regional Planning

 Empty Homes


Overview

There are an estimated 750,000 empty houses in the UK, a wasted resource contributing to neighbourhood decline and creating social and financial costs for communities. Homesteading offers a sustainable and affordable way to bring some of these back into use. By giving local people the opportunity to buy derelict properties at a nominal cost and receive support and advice on renovation, families can access affordable housing and help to regenerate neighbourhoods.

But credible evidence of the approach’s efficacy has been lacking. Teaming up with Empty Homes, an independent charitable organisation, Dr Lee Crookes accessed KE Collaborative R&D funding for an exploratory study of homesteading. This funding is designed to facilitate long-term partnerships through supporting a set piece of collaborative research work.

Activities

Working in partnership facilitated access to key people in the field and strengthened the case for homesteading as a viable method. In-depth interviews, a literature review and case studies enabled the researchers to examine the implementation and results of homesteading schemes in Stoke, Newcastle, Sheffield and Manchester.

A final report, launched at an Empty Homes event held during Empty Homes Week in November 2013, identified the factors crucial to success and barriers to uptake. It found an untapped demand for homesteading initiatives, which can be enormously successful when backed by political commitment, innovation and enthusiasm.

Outcomes

This collaborative project addressed a gap in knowledge about homesteading initiatives, providing the evidence needed for policy-makers and leading to a clearer understanding of critical theoretical, political and practical questions. Possible new opportunities for research may arise from the partnership. These will inform policy and complement the Department’s and the University’s community engagement agenda.

Dr Crookes found the collaboration very valuable: “This project has generated more interest in homesteading as a possible solution to the problem of empty properties, which could benefit neighbourhood regeneration initiatives in many former industrial areas in northern England. We hope further collaboration can influence future policy development.”

David Ireland, former Chief Executive at Empty Homes, was very encouraged by the success of the project: “The report helped raise the profile of homesteading, an approach to housing previously little recognised, and helped explain it to the housing industry. There are encouraging signs that this recognition is leading to greater uptake of the approach.”