Stephen Barclay is the Member of Parliament for North East Cambridgeshire and a member of the Public Accounts Committee. Follow Stephen on Twitter.
Historic buildings and period architecture form the backbone of Britain’s thriving tourist industry. Quaint market towns and grand cityscapes have defined our built environment and shared national identity for centuries. Yet up and down the country, an estimated 730,000 homes and commercial buildings stand derelict and abandoned.
Neglected and dilapidated buildings blight the overall impression of a town centre, and have a damaging knock-on effect on local businesses and the value of neighbouring properties, as well as attracting vandalism, vermin, fly posting and problems of anti-social behaviour.
Walking around Wisbech in my North-East Cambridgeshire Constituency, it is clear that derelict properties left to decay without council intervention. and empty shop fronts where business rates have priced out entrepreneurs, pose a real threat to the safety and the survival of our town centres.
Bringing rundown buildings and commercial properties back to life should be right at the heart of plans to regenerate our towns and boost local economic development. Instead, residents and tourists are confronted with buildings which have been neglected for decades.