Empty flats above shops - audit

MQT on 2009-11-18
Session date: 
November 18, 2009
Question By: 
Mike Tuffrey
Liberal Democrats
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Will your audit of empty homes include flats above shops, which often are not recorded as empty homes?


Answer for Empty flats above shops - audit

Answer for Empty flats above shops - audit

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Yes. Thanks, Mike. You are asking whether the audit of empty homes will include flats above shops which are often not recorded as empty homes. The answer is, yes, we certainly will include such empty flats and, as part of our campaign to reduce the number of empty homes currently standing at 82,000, we will certainly be targeting flats above shops.

Mike Tuffrey (AM): Let us try and end the morning on a constructive note because my information is --

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): I think it has all been constructive!

Mike Tuffrey (AM): My information is, if those are known to the local authority as empty, then they will be, but what you audit is not doing is pushing the boundaries to find the so-called hidden homes. In your manifesto, just to take you back - I am a great believer in you doing what you said you would do - you said that you would have a blitz --

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Is this your constructive bit?! Is this constructive, Tuffrey!

Mike Tuffrey (AM): Absolutely. I am getting you to do, constructively, what you said you would do which is, for the first time, you said there would be a London audit that would include hidden homes, but my information is there are 40,000 --

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Sorry, hidden empty homes?

Mike Tuffrey (AM): Hidden empty homes. Exactly. Those that are not currently known --

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Because hidden homes is a term used to describe the finding of potential --

Mike Tuffrey (AM): I understand that. You used it in the context of a Boston style where - and I am no allowed visual aids but I will do it anyway - the Boston hidden homes exercise looks at commercial industrial and mixed use buildings. My information is this audit you have set up is not looking at flats above shops that are not already known, so it is not going that extra mile to find the hidden homes. In June you said to me that you were not going to include industrial property and in September you said you were not going to include vacant commercial property.

What I want to put to you, very simply - it is not an aggressive question - is that the audit that is underway is not going that extra mile as you promised in your manifesto, so will you agree to go back and look at the scope of this audit that is underway and agree to broaden it into the terms that you said in your manifesto?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): All I can say is that I am glad for the constructive question and the constructive way in which you have asked it. We are doing everything we can to bring empty homes back into use through the targeted funding stream. We have brought 1,292 back into use since --

Mike Tuffrey (AM): Yes. My point is you are not auditing commercial, industrial flats above shops.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): I am told that we are auditing that bunch of --

Mike Tuffrey (AM): Except your answers to me before said you were not.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Well my answer to you today is --

Mike Tuffrey (AM): Is contradictory to what you said last month and the month before.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): All I can say is that we are looking at flats above shops but I am sure, Mike, that my housing people will be listening on tenterhooks to your every word, as they always do, and the advice that you have given will, I am sure, be taken up very, very actively and they will be trying to do what they can to maximise the discovery of potential homes for people in commercial property.

Mike Tuffrey (AM): What I want them to do is to do what you said in your manifesto. So let us go back to your manifesto. You give that to them. They go off and do it. That is how it works.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): We are doing what I said in my manifesto and I am delighted --

Mike Tuffrey (AM): Except you are not.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): -- to have, as usual, your wholehearted support.

Mike Tuffrey (AM): My support is for what you said you would do in the manifesto, not what you are actually doing.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): You are supporting what I am doing because we are doing what, I think, you want us to do.

Mike Tuffrey (AM): I will put to your officials the facts as I have got them and we will come back next month with the answer.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): I am sure you will. I will look forward to it hugely.

Mike Tuffrey (AM): Thank you.

Darren Johnson (Chair): Thank you. That is all the Groups now out of time so thank you, Mayor, for coming along and answering our questions today.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Thank you.