Bringing empty buildings back to life in the North

November 27, 2014 10:19 AM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

Nick Clegg has announced plans to see abandoned buildings brought back to life in a renewed effort to tackle a chronic problem where vast sites in Northern cities become empty and unused for long periods of time, making areas look blighted.

Nick wants to help match-make entrepreneurs and community groups with local authorities and land-owners to find temporary uses for vacant buildings and land rather than let those sites go to waste.

The North has nearly twice as many hectares of previously developed vacant land and buildings than the South.

The vacant buildings could provide invaluable space for a wide range of local people to set up a business, open a shop or put on an event. It can have a knock on effect and revitalise city centres drawing in talent and investment from far and wide.

On a visit to Berlin to a project called Betahaus, Nick saw how collaborative working space in the heart of the creative district has been set up using derelict land and property.

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Nick said:

"Leaving useful land in the North to languish is not only bad for business, it can hamper the success of an area in so many ways. Which is why I want to see empty buildings brought back to life and back in business.

"We need to understand what stands in the way of some of the most incredible space in the country being used, and make things more flexible so that we can fill these buildings with artists, start-ups, and other entrepreneurs to restore the buildings' purpose and appeal.

"Through my Northern Futures initiative, I'm championing innovative ideas from people in the North to build a stronger economy and fairer society."

To help unlock this potential, Nick will form a working group immediately - comprised of local government, businesses and charities - to investigate how more vacant buildings and land across the North can be brought back into temporary use. The group will explore sites with potential across Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Liverpool and Newcastle.