Thursday, 15 July 2010

Keeping Villages Alive

Perhaps the most significant issue facing the future of rural communities is the provision of affordable housing. But it is not a single issue and reflects how living and working in countryside is becoming increasingly difficult particularly for young people.  The future of local shops , pubs, jobs , schools, post offices are interlinked with the future of affordable local housing.

On July 12th the National Housing Federation, the National Farmers Union and the National Federation of Young Farmers Clubs highlighted the scale of the problem arguing that young farmers face being priced out of the countryside. Over the last decade the price of an average rural house rose to £239,698 whilst the average income in rural areas stands at just £21,000.  A  recent poll commissioned by the Housing Federation revealed that 37% of rural people fear that traditional village life is now in terminal decline.  The housing list for affordable housing has reached 750,000 and over 70% surveyed said they would support the building of local affordable housing in their villages.

On July 13th in association with the Council for the Protection of England, the Countryside Alliance, the Commission for Rural Communities and Action with Communities in Rural England published Affordable Housing - Keeping Village Alive. 

Commenting on the guide , Kate Houghton, CPRE Planning Officer, says:  “There is a chronic shortage of affordable housing in some areas of the countryside and building market housing will not solve the problem. For the promise of the ‘Big Society’ to work, there must be vibrant communities to embrace it - without affordable housing these communities will simply not exist. It is possible to build affordable housing, protect the landscape and preserve rural communities if the right decisions are taken now.” 

David Orr, National Housing Federation Chief Executive said: “Unless we build more affordable homes for the local families who sustain and enrich village life, then we must accept that traditional community life will be wiped out within a generation in many areas.

Launching the report Stuart Burgess the Rural Advocate said: “I have been very pleased to be able to work with the NHF and I am delighted to be able to launch today – on their behalf – this new report Affordable Housing – keeping villages alive. Over the last year their work on raising the profile of affordable rural housing and housing associations has added new dynamism and urgency into this most critical of rural issues. The report is just one example of where key stakeholders have come together to bring forward our shared ideas and values. A consensus view is emerging around how to bring forward more positive approaches to delivering more affordable housing as well as enhancing the character of our towns and villages”.

The report can be downloaded on the CRC web site

____posted 15th July 2010____
Stay up to date with the 'Rural Church and Community Matters' blog: