Monday, 30 June 2014 05:22

Rural people 'pushed out of countryside'

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Rural people 'pushed out of countryside'

RURAL areas are becoming some of the least affordable places to live in the country, says a report.

People living and working in the countryside are being pushed out, as house prices in rural areas soar, second homes lie empty and populations become older and more vulnerable.

Figures released by the National Housing Federation to mark Rural Housing Week (30 June - 6 July) show rural areas have become some of the least affordable places to live in the country.

On average house prices in rural areas are 11 times the average salary.

This means potential homebuyers working in these areas would need to see wages rise by a staggering 150% to afford a home.

Around half (44%) of the 50 most unaffordable places to live in England outside of London are in rural areas. House prices in these areas are between 13 and 20 times the average salary.

Dubbed as POREs (Priced out of Rural England), rural workers have seen wages rise more slowly than the rest of England in the last decade, by 21% compared to 24% in the rest of the country.

Adding to housing woes in rural locations, a shortage of the right kind of properties is pushing up prices, said the federation.

David Orr, National Housing Federation chief executive, said: "The traditional picture of the English countryside is fast becoming extinct.

"We know how difficult many under 40s are finding it to afford a home in towns and cities, but it's becoming impossible for people to put down roots in our villages and market towns.

"The unaffordability crisis in rural areas is putting local shops pubs and schools at risk of closure and ageing populations are putting pressure on communities.

"These worsening problems would be solved if more affordable homes were built.

"We are not talking about concreting over the countryside. It's not ruining the countryside to build 10 high quality, affordable new homes in our villages and 50 in market towns.

That's all it would take across the land to end the rural housing crisis and help to solve the country's housing crisis within a generation."

Increasingly, families are feeling forced out of their local areas as more buyers seek second homes in rural areas often left empty outside the tourist season – putting pressure on local economies.

In some areas like South Hams in Devon, as many as one in ten properties is a second home. Of the 25 local authorities with the highest proportion of second homes, nearly two thirds are rural.

While the unaffordability crisis in rural areas is forcing young workers and families out, the number of over 65s has risen 2.5 times faster (by 20%) (4) than in towns and cities.

Recent figures project that by 2020 around 65% of over 65s (an increase of 24%) in many rural areas will need help with simple tasks like shopping, washing dishes and opening screw tops.

The federation said rural areas would struggle to support the ageing population boom unless more affordable homes were built ensuring families and working people could keep communities alive.

People in this conversation

  • Guest (Mark Cargill)


    All well and good building these homes but where are the guarantees that the 'right' people will get them? Unless these local people are assisted with a mortgage scheme (currently under review by the Bank of England due to potential overheating of the economy) then the only other route is via a housing organisation. These organisations have certain criteria you have to pass to get a house, such as local connections, but there are no guarantees of only local people getting these proposed houses.

    from Alcester, Warwickshire B49, UK
  • Guest (Guest Chris E)


    "10 high quality affordable new homes in our villages and 50 in our market towns" is laughable. Developers cram as many dwellings into as small a space as possible and then do it again & again. With 'average' house prices 11 times local average earnings (in my area) Orr has lost the plot as to what constitutes 'affordable'. What about the (nearly) £1/2 billion Govt has just given to developers to 'unlock' stalled housing schemes on the thousands of plots with extant planning permission?

  • Guest (Mervyn Jeffery)


    This is NOT a new situation. I live in a small rural town; Shaftesbury, North Dorset; the surrounding villages and even the town has cottages and small houses that for decades have been bought by wealthy retirees or weekenders. This to the detriment of local young people wishing to buy their own homes. In the village where I was born, the cottage where a former shepherd used to live has been bought by an outsider who then bought the one next door and knocked them into one. This is not unusual.

    from 26A Nettlecombe, Shaftesbury, Dorset SP7 8PR, UK

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