We have introduced a series of measures to get empty homes back into use, which are backed up by our commitment of £160 million of central Government funding. That is in contrast to the last Government’s pathfinder programme, which was more interested in bulldozing Victorian terraces than refurbishing empty homes.
I am grateful for that answer. Constituents of mine in Pudsey are extremely concerned about the deluge of recent planning applications on greenfield and protected area of search—PAS—sites, given that as of October 2011 the number of empty properties in Leeds stood at nearly 14,000. Does my right hon. Friend agree that it would be better to bring those homes back into use than to destroy our green spaces?
I know my hon. Friend’s constituency well and am a frequent visitor there. He is right to point out the number of empty homes within the Leeds city boundaries, as it is one reason why we have been so keen to have the new homes bonus there, in order to bring long-term empty properties back into use. We would be doing well if we brought some of the fine architecture of Leeds—those wonderful terraced properties—back into use.
Will the Secretary of State congratulate Kettering borough council, of which I have the privilege to be a member, on its work with the Rockingham Forest Housing Association? They have recently spent about a third of a million pounds to bring three empty properties back into use, and now three families have homes that they did not have this time last year.