Empty homes across Bolton have sparked alarm in the face of a mounting housing crisis.

This comes after the most recent census found that the number of empty homes in the borough had climbed to more than 7,000.

This sits starkly against the ever-growing demand for housing, with nearly 10,000 people currently stuck on waiting lists.

Cllr Sean Fielding, who says he is frequently contacted about empty homes in his Breightmet ward, said: "The most frustrating pieces of casework I receive as a councillor are where people want assistance getting rehoused.

The Bolton News: An empty home on Levens DriveAn empty home on Levens Drive (Image: Public)

“More often than not I'm sadly unable to help, and when I advise people this they understandably point to these empty houses, asking why they are boarded up, and often have been for some time.

"I understand that sometimes when homes become void, housing associations can't always afford to bring them up to standard and in some cases they are sold off.

“That means affordable homes are being lost from the system and bought by developers who will then rent them out at market rates, rather than affordable or social rents.

The Bolton News: A house that has been boarded up on Rochester AvenueA house that has been boarded up on Rochester Avenue (Image: Public)

“It's perverse given the housing shortage, and in particular the shortage of affordable homes.”

The census figures, released in April this year, found that as of March 2021 7,310 of 126,095 total dwellings in Bolton were unoccupied.

This marked a sharp increase compared to previous years with just under 5,000 homes unoccupied in 2016.

The Bolton News: An empty house on New LaneAn empty house on New Lane (Image: Public)

A study three years later in 2019 by insurance company Admiral found that Bolton’s empty homes were worth a combined value of £71million.  

Cllr Fielding claimed that failing to provide housing associations with the resources to bring empty homes back in to use marked a serious failing on the part of the government.

He said: "The country is in the midst of a housing crisis and it's unforgivable that so many properties lie empty here in Bolton.”

ALSO READ: Rising number of 'empty homes' in Bolton sparks concerns

ALSO READ: Almost 1,000 empty homes in Bolton worth whopping £71m

ALSO READ: Nearly 5,000 empty homes in Bolton, latest figures reveal

He added: "With more than 9000 households on the housing waiting list in Bolton, something urgently needs to change."

But the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has previously said that local authorities like the council can use their own powers, like compulsory purchase orders and empty dwelling management orders to convert empty properties into homes.

A spokesperson said: “We have delivered over 2.2 million homes since 2010 and reduced the number of long-term empty homes by more than 30,000 over the same period.

“We are investing £11.5bn to deliver tens of thousands more affordable homes across the country.”