ALMOST 1,000 homes are standing idle in the Staffordshire Moorlands – at a time the district council plans to build thousands of new hosues.
Figures show there are 988 properties standing empty across the district.
In Leek there are 290 empty homes, in Cheadle 123, Biddulph has 203, and there are 372 in the rural areas, which are registered vacant by the district council.
Now calls have been made for the authority to bring the homes back to life before building on greenfield sites.
Councillor Linda Malyon said: "We must use up what we have got first.
"This is a lot of empty properties and it does not make sense to keep building when there are vacant ones.
"Every town and village has got to argue its case as development will crucify towns and many rural villages.
"People must respond to some of the proposals or else they could finish up with lots of houses on their doorstep. It shows we have enough houses, but what we need most in the Moorlands are real jobs."
Ian Plant, who handed over the role of Cheadle mayor on Monday night, said : "We went to a presentation last week at the district council. We were told that 700 houses had been allocated in Cheadle and there was a need to find sites for another 600. Where are these sites?
"Officers are sitting at a desk looking at maps. They should get about in the rush hour and look at the congestion to see how bad it really is. When you look at estate agent windows they are full of houses; many have been on sale for some time.
"The infrastructure is not there – many rural villages can't cope with the amount of traffic now."
A spokesman for Whiston Action Group (WAG) said: "We feel that the council has much bigger issues to deal with before considering more houses.
"The southern end of the Churnet Valley is home to Europe's largest theme park and that puts incredible pressure on the very rural road network.
"Residents are subjected to delay after delay with traffic backing up daily all around the Churnet Valley.
"Taking Whiston as a typical example of a local rural village, there is no shortage of houses for sale, they seem to remain unsold for many months, sometimes years, so WAG questions the demand for more housing in many rural villages.
"WAG feels that until such time that the Staffordshire Moorlands has a suitable road infrastructure to cope, the most necessary surely being the Alton Towers relief road, that all talk of massive house building schemes should be put on hold."
A spokesman for Staffordshire Moorlands District Council said: "A recent Strategic Housing Market Assessment identified future housing needs up to 2031 and empty properties are taken into account as part of this assessment.
"The council also wants to see empty houses brought back into use and offers advice to property owners on their options. In some cases we can also take action to, for example, improve the appearance of a property.
"If any owners of properties that are presently empty would like guidance they can contact the council via our website www.staffsmoorlands.gov.uk or on 0345 605 3010."
Between 2006 and 2031 the council core strategy aims to complete 6,000 new houses which involves 1,800 at Leek; Cheadle 1,320; Biddulph 1,200 and 1,680 in rural areas.
From April 1, 2006, and March 31, 2013, many had been completed or commitments made.
The figures show that 797 were still to be found in Leek; Cheadle 1080; Biddulph 813 and rural 928.