280-yr wait for new affordable home in rural areas

Rural housing waiting lists have hit a record level of 750,000 people, but too few affordable homes are being built to address the chronic shortage of affordable homes in the countryside.

The East Riding of Yorkshire has a waiting list of 9975 households – but with just 36 affordable homes built on average over the last three years it would take 280 years to provide everyone on the waiting list with a new-built home.

Newark and Sherwood, in Nottinghamshire, has a waiting list of 8046 households – but only 44 homes have been built on average over the last three years, resulting in a potential wait of 183 years for a new social home.

And people in Wychavon, Worcestershire, are looking at a wait of up to 87 years for their home – if the current rate of building new homes is maintained and no-one else is added to the waiting list.

Last year, three rural districts saw less than 10 new affordable homes built – with four built in the Cotswold district, Gloucestershire, five in Alnwick, in Northumberland, and six in West Somerset.

The Federation’s figures also show that the least affordable rural district is the Isles of Scilly, where the average house price is £335,000 compared to an average salary of £14,420, with a house price/salary ratio of 23.2.

The second least affordable rural district is Chichester, Sussex, where the average house price is £340,063 compared to an average salary of £16,463, with a house price/salary ratio of 20.7.

The third least affordable rural district is South Buckinghamshire, where the average house price is £530,075 compared to an average salary of £27,903, with a house price/salary ratio of 19.

The new research also shows that second home ownership is a major issue in some of England’s most attractive rural areas. The rural district with the highest proportion of second homes is the Isles of Scilly with 18.5%. In South Hams, Devon, 9.83% are second homes, and in North Cornwall 9.56% are second homes.

Federation chief executive David Orr said: "So few affordable homes are being built in the English countryside that in some areas it will take 280 years to provide everyone on a waiting list with a new house.

"Traditional village life is dying out in this country as local people are increasingly priced out of their community and pubs, villages and local services are disappearing with them.

"We cannot go on ignoring this problem and hope it will some how get better.

"To save the countryside, we believe that all rural housing authorities must carry out a comprehensive assessment of affordable housing need every three years, and follow this up with a plan to deliver new homes.

"Some rural authorities – like Wychavon, South Hams and East Riding – have already taken a lead and pledged to address the shortage of homes in their area, but we need these action plans to become the norm rather than the exception."

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