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Saturday 21 November 2009

Empty Houses

A frequent topic for debate across the UK is the housing stock, and why it has to be that there are folks with nowhere to live, when there are so many empty properties. It’s another example of how the market does not always provide, although admitting the fact may be distressing to the more conventionally minded of economists.

This is not confined to the UK. I’ve noticed how many apartments and houses across the Algarve give the appearance of being empty, and today I found an entire complex closed up, perhaps for the season, though this will be of little comfort to those living in shacks behind Albufeira’s shiny new bus station.

At first I could only see one row of apartments, but then it became apparent that the complex had three or four rows, taking advantage of the landscape to give everyone the coveted south facing view. How long it will be before one or more empty properties are taken over by squatters I don’t know: maybe the laws in Portugal work against this kind of thing.

Later on, I at last found a development apparently abandoned part way – as with the apartments opposite the entrance to Crewe Works. Not only was it unusual (the cranes and construction are still at work elsewhere in Albufeira), it was also very, very large, spread across the hillside overlooking the marina.

A faded sign on one of the panels fencing off the area proclaims the development – or lack of it – as being a Crowne Plaza resort. Anyone looking for something upmarket from that name would be disappointed: much of the construction was of structural steelwork and breeze block.

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