Carmarthenshire has been revealed as the Welsh county with the highest number of empty houses, according to new research.
There is a staggering 288,539 empty homes across Wales, England and Scotland – with more than 25,000 of those in Wales.
The statistics have been collated by property buyers GoodMove, who used official data from the UK Government, the Welsh Government and the Scottish Government. 75% (215,625) of the empty homes across the three nations are in England, with 16% (47,333) in Scotland and 9% (25,581) in Wales.
When broken down into counties, the data reveals that Carmarthenshire has by far the biggest number of empty dwellings in Wales with almost 3,000 – more than 1,300 greater than the figure in Cardiff.
Carmarthenshire has 2,964 empty homes, while neighbouring Pembrokeshire also makes the top five list with 1,708. A full list of the ten counties in Wales with the highest numbers of empty houses can be seen below:
- Carmarthenshire (2,964)
- Rhonda Cynon Taf (2,467)
- Swansea (2,237)
- Pembrokeshire (1,708)
- Cardiff (1,671)
- Neath Port Talbot (1,382)
- Bridgend (1,231)
- Conwy (1,195)
- Gwynedd (1,140)
- Newport (1,114)
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Figures released in May revealed that all 22 council areas in Wales saw an increase in average property prices in the 12 months up to March 2021. As a nation, house prices increased by 11% over that 12-month period, but in Carmarthenshire the rate was much higher than that overall average.
In the biggest jump of all the Welsh counties, Carmarthenshire’s property prices rose by 22.7% to an average of £183,129. You can read more about that here.
This jump in house values led to one local councillor to speak out about second home ownership, saying that communities in Carmarthenshire were left “defenceless” and that young people were being forced to move elsewhere.
Councillor Cefin Campbell’s motion calling for a clampdown on second and holiday homes was passed at a full council meeting back in January, although around a quarter of the county’s 74 councillors did not vote after declaring an interest in the subject. You can read more about that motion here.
“It’s not really about inadequate planning policies, more about the unequal distribution of wealth – the haves, the have nots ,” said Mr Campbell.
“It’s when market forces leave your communities defenceless; it’s when privilege and entitlement overrides local needs.”
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While increased house prices may be a factor in the number of empty properties in Carmarthenshire, a chartered surveyor has said it also raises another conversation – about homelessness.
Housing charity Shelter has estimated that one in 200 people in the UK are homeless. Furthermore, there were 95,370 British households living in temporary accommodation as of the end of last year, and 6,278 people in temporary accommodation in Wales alone as of April 2021.
“It’s really interesting to see the number of empty houses in the UK and in Wales specifically,” said chartered surveyor Nima Ghasri, a director at GoodMove.
“Empty dwellings vary from an abandoned house to a completely derelict building and of course not all of them are safe to be lived in, or even economically viable to be renovated into liveable properties. But with nearly seven in 10 Brits believing these empty houses could be used to accommodate homeless people in the UK, it raises a very important and interesting issue.”
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