Our Fill ’Em Up campaign has shown the huge interest in bringing Britain’s empty sites back into use. But will councils respond?
When we launched our ‘Fill ’Em Up’ campaign in October, we called on councils to be more flexible in utilising their empty buildings. Boarding things up when people have the ideas and energy to use precious public space is a waste. Hundreds of readers have got in touch to tell us about empty buildings in their neighbourhood.
Manchester City Council is soon to open up two empty buildings – the former Hulme Library (pictured) and the former Beech Mount children’s home in Harpurhey – to be used as overnight shelters for rough sleepers this Christmas. It’s great news. Perhaps council bosses are responding to the overwhelming support for Gary Neville allowing homeless men to use his future hotel, the former Stock Exchange (though they won’t admit it, saying the plan has been worked on for “months”).
We’re continuing to carry out inspections so we can open more empty buildings in other parts of the cityRegardless of the motivations, the important thing is it’s happening. The council now supports the principle of short-term use and has shown a willingness to work with groups supporting rough sleepers (in this case social housing landlord Riverside). “We have now identified the first pair… and we’re continuing to carry out inspections so we can open more empty buildings in other parts of the city,” says councillor Paul Andrews.
More good news: Stoke-on-Trent City Council is also opening boarded-up buildings to provide overnight accommodation for rough sleepers, having identified two suitable places so far.