The Financial Times (p13) reports that in a study published today, the CPRE estimates the vacant housing in the north is equivalent to a city the size of Sheffield.
More than 380,000 homes out of projected housing growth of 817,000 in the north up to 2016 could be built on greenfield sites, it says.
The council is urging the government to encourage greater use of empty properties through extra funding, tax incentives and more sympathetic planning policies.
Targets on reducing empty stock should be set by local authorities under the government's planning policy review.
Cate Hammond, the CPRE's northern regional policy officer, said: 'A comprehensive approach at the national, regional and local level is needed to bring empty homes back into use.'
The move towards greater regional government under the new regional development agencies provided 'a unique opportunity' for northern regions, including the north-west, north-ear and Yorkshire and Humberside, to address the issue, she said.