For some years a neglected corner of Hall Green on the Stratford Road – which has not escaped Elliott Brown’s watchful eye and lens – has been an eyesore, attracting vandalism. Though its next-door neighbour, a popular Waitrose store, has offered to buy these properties and make good use of them and/or the site, the landlords have refused to sell them.

All photographs taken by a reader

Unused commercial and residential properties gradually becoming derelict can be seen in many parts of the city and offer an opportunity for rehabilitation. Unlike property developers’ large land banks, they don’t appear to be promising speculative ventures.

Release land and property for productive enterprise?

John Read writes in the Financial Times that government policy for generations has encouraged virtually tax-free investment and speculation in land to the detriment of productive enterprise which is burdened with “multiplicity of taxes”.

The collateral trap

It seems strange to the onlooker that landlords are content to leave property to deteriorate and receive no return from them, but many companies now have large debts and offer land or property as security, thereby getting lower interest rates. Unless their situation changes, they would not wish to sell it and might not be able to afford to maintain the properties.

 A partnership solution?

One solution, the compulsory purchase procedure, is said to be time-consuming, expensive and sometimes misused, though a web search reveals that many councils are involved in such negotiations. Another is to complain about such properties to the Local Government Ombudsman. A third creative way of addressing the problem came from the reader who took the pictures.

She suggests a partnership process, which sounds helpful to all parties and economically viable: the council invites a local firm to renovate the property, let it and share the proceeds. Ultimate ownership is retained by the unsatisfactory owner and redeemed on payment of expenses incurred in maintenance.

Will this situation be happily and productively resolved – soon?

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