Monday, 03 August 2015 08:39

Rural housing is 'greatest challenge'

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Rural housing is 'greatest challenge'

THE need to provide more affordable rural homes has been described as one of the UK's biggest challenges.

Ross Murray, deputy president of the Country Land and Business Association, said increasing the amount of affordable rural housing was "one of the great economic challenges of our generation".

Mr Murray made the remarks during an interview on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme on Saturday (1 August), broadcast live from the CLA Game Fair at Harewood House, Leeds.

Sympathising with a local couple struggling to afford ever-increasing market prices for rural property, the CLA deputy president called for a relaxing of rules to ease the crisis.

This would allow youngsters to remain in their local village, take over the family farm or business and help keep local shops and services viable, he said.

Mr Murray said: "CLA lobbying has achieved significant progress with the recent relaxation of permitted development rights for the conversion of redundant agricultural buildings."

But he added: "More needs to be done if we are to keep our countryside viable for future generations."

Mr Murray's comments follow warnings that a shortage of affordable homes is pricing local young people and families out of the countryside.

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.

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