We have to be careful when there is an outcry for changes in legislation that impinge on the liberty of each individual in this wonderful and liberal country of ours. There is a substantial cost to an owner of a property (in Bishops Avenue or any other road) together with Council Tax which should deter most people from leaving properties derelict for any length of time.
The problem in Bishops Avenue is that development of these single large properties has taken, in some cases, five years or more (when you take the planning and construction complications into account) and therefore to see 20% of the 66 properties in the road-requiring repair is not so peculiar.
Most roads have at least 10-15% under some kind of refurbishment or development and Bishops Avenue is no different.
Clearly properties still sell for considerable amounts of money and the empty property syndrome does not seem to have affected values.
Lest we forget, every empty property will eventually be developed and this is a source of rich earnings for the construction industry, builders merchants and the labour force. This is all part of the economic growth of this country.
International buyers bring valuable foreign earnings into the country that helps stem the outflow of money for imports and this is necessary in trying to rectify our balance of payments deficit.
Between 2008 and 2011 funding for any form of development practically dried up and this is another reason why, at the moment, there may be more properties undeveloped in this illustrious road than would normally be the case.
This has nothing to do with the homeless or lack of affordable housing that is a separate and urgent matter that needs government and councils attention.
Rather than proposing that property owners be penalised for leaving properties unoccupied (that would be difficult to enforce) why not devote the energies to de-politicising the process, getting more funding for redevelopment both of which will increase the supply of private and affordable homes.