A housing charity has received criticism this week for leaving a business property empty when it could have been used to house people.
Number 5a Denne Parade, Horsham sits in a row of residential properties, but despite a lack of affordable homes in the Horsham district, its owners Southern Housing Group have not leased it out in five years.
Antony Fletcher, of the Causeway, said: “If you are a homeless family you will be happy sleeping anywhere.
“There’s been a lot of stuff in the paper about people who are pretty desperate for housing. It’s the lack of action that bothers me.”
Liz Hills, area development manager at Southern Housing Group, said: “We moved our Horsham offices from Fivash House and 5a Denne Parade about five years ago following an expansion of our customer service centre.
“Since then we have continued to use the buildings for commercial and business uses while assessing the market and exploring options regarding its future use. We are currently in the process of finalising extensive surveys of the properties which will inform our decision on how to move forward.”
An initiative by Horsham District Council helped bring hundreds of long-term empty homes back into use by working with owners, but because this property is registered for business use, HDC has not acted in this way.
A spokesperson for HDC said: “As far as Horsham District Council is aware, 5a Denne Parade is listed as an office and owned by Southern Housing and therefore pays business rates. This is not therefore classed as a domestic empty home and the council does not pursue empty commercial properties.”
Mr Fletcher said there were national schemes to bring business properties into residential use and Southern Housing Group and HDC should work together to make it happen.