Wednesday, 08 July 2015 07:47

Homes shortage threatens rural future

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Homes shortage threatens rural future

A SHORTAGE of affordable homes is pricing local young people and families out of the countryside, the government has been warned.

Parts of rural England could become "pensioner pockets" as the number of older residents soars as younger people are forced to move away, said the National Housing Federation.

Younger generations who aspire to "grow up and grow old" in rural areas often can't get a foot on the local property ladder, it warned.

In some areas more than 40%, or four in every 10 households, will be over 65 in just six years' time - considerably higher than the predicated national average of 29%.

Out of these 27 ageing districts of England, just two are urban.

The rural district of West Somerset, for example, will officially be England's oldest place by 2021 with nearly half of its households (47%) of pensioner age.

The federation said the statistics showed that the idea of a living, working countryside was at risk of disappearing.

Federation chief executive David Orr said: "Our idealistic view of the English countryside is fast becoming extinct.

"Workers and families aspiring to live, work and grow up in the countryside can't find homes they can afford. If we don't build more homes, these places will become 'pensioner pockets' rather than the thriving, working communities they can be.

"All it would take to deal with the acute housing crisis in rural areas is a handful of high quality, affordable new homes in our villages or market towns.

"The government has committed to ending this housing crisis within a generation. To make this happen across the country now it must free up land and provide proper investment in affordable housing."

Disproportionately ageing populations is just one of the symptoms of the chronic housing crisis in rural England, said the federation.

The cost of buying a home in 90% of rural areas is eight times the average salary.

At the same time, wages are languishing below the national average and small businesses often can't find local workers.

The stark figures, compiled for Rural Housing Week, also uncover the top 20 areas in England where the population of elderly people over 75 will increase the most by 2021.

Some 18 places on the list are rural districts, with Lichfield, South Staffordshire and Wyre Forest topping the list, highlighting the strain these hotspots are facing in the years to come.

The federation is calling for more new homes in rural districts, planned at a local level.

It says this would ensure developments would genuinely meet local need, ensuring rural communities can thrive for generations to come.

People in this conversation

  • Guest (Alida Whitaker)

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    Having read your above article, there are two important points missing re the chronic housing crisis:
    1. buy to let houses bought as pension income
    2. second home owners
    which are keeping the prices high. There are no local jobs for young people in rural Devon, except in tourism/catering

  • Guest (J A Snell)

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    I agree with Alida Whitaker and add we still need to build more affordable 2 bed homes to buy or let via RSL's

  • Guest (Simon Kent)

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    The issue which is being overlooked is that cost of building new property alone will price many young people out of the market. A typical 2 bed house of 750 sqft will cost £75k to build (£100 sqft) plus any additional costs of putting in roads to adoptable standards. Then you have to consider a cost for the land for the land owner as no-one will sell land for zero cost. So you end up well over £100k which isn't affordable for young people in a rural environment.

  • Guest (John Curtis)

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    'Affordable' housing built to sell is Community Infrastructure Levy (at £100/sq m in West Dorset) free, housing privately built and retained to let is not. This anomaly is a huge disincentive to one of the few possible sources of homes available to those on lower incomes in rural areas.

    from Dorset, UK

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