I WAS very glad to see the article ‘Councils planning to reduce numbers of empty homes’ (April 14) as this is the quickest route to housing more people. However, the available, empty, built environment and derelict sites are not being considered.

While councils are obliged to collect data on empty homes, there is no equivalent pressure on them to maintain such records on empty shop fronts, industrial sites or other derelict brownfield sites anywhere in Oxfordshire.

It is clear that providing housing to meet local demand throughout the county would mean bringing into use long-term, empty retail and industrial sites in particular.

Also, numbers of households on lists for council homes do not tell us how many other households are living in unacceptable housing that is damp, under-insulated or overcrowded. So, as with empty properties, it is likely that a large amount of refurbishment needs to be done.

Certainly, in East Oxford, you can see obviously neglected properties on most streets. The employment potential of re-using properties for housing and refurbishing homes in poor condition should not be under-estimated: it could be considered a regeneration strategy in itself.

Couple such an effort with wider sustainability objectives like providing renewable energy and first-class insulation and double glazing, and the benefits could be considerable in Oxford and throughout the county.

However, there is the matter of political will: can councils provide leadership on these issues, and will central government create the kind of overall tax base that will sustain properly-funded local government?

STEVEN DAWE County Press Officer, Oxfordshire Green Party Bulan Road Oxford