Ipswich: Charity boss awarded OBE for work to fill empty homes

David Ireland, who has been awarded an OBE

David Ireland, who has been awarded an OBE

An Ipswich-born charity boss has been given an special honour for his work to reduce the number of empty homes across the country.

David Ireland, who grew up in Ipswich, was awarded an OBE in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to housing, and said it was thanks to the work of others around him.

Mr Ireland joined Empty Homes about seven years ago and became its chief executive. The charity helps people create homes from previously empty properties and also campaigns for more empty homes to come back into use

He said: “When I got the envelope through, I wondered what it was. I was completely surprised. I wasn’t expecting it at all. It’s very nice to have got it.

“It is down to the work of a whole load of people in the charity, and a lot of work is being done on this issue by other organisations too.”

Mr Ireland began his career as an environmental health officer with various local councils, before taking more of an interest into the housing sector. He became dismayed by the number of properties which are left vacant when so many people are homeless and being housed at public expense in bed and breakfast accommodation, often many miles away. He then became involved in the Empty Homes Agency, which later became known as Empty Homes.

The charity has initiated a number of projects across the country including Stockport and Liverpool, and Mr Ireland is currently in discussions about reducing the number of empty properties on Ipswich’s Waterfront.

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He has also acted as a consultant on Channel 4’s series, The Great British Property Scandal, which he claims has helped spark interest in the issue and secure some action.

He is now seeking to convince local authorities, building associations and government ministers, as well as the public, that empty properties must not be a blight on the landscape but a valuable resource. By renovating houses, it regenerates run-down areas, reduces crime and brings council tax income to local authorities.

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