Affordable housing crisis threat to village life

The RSA warned the scale of the closures was "unprecedented" – and said around 1200 shops had already closed in rural areas over the last two years, while the BBPA said over 600 pubs shut last year in the British countryside and warned there was little sign the dramatic decline was slowing down.

The Federation said the mass closures reflected a declining demand for services in villages where local families – the core customer base – had been priced out of the area by an influx of wealthy commuters and second home owners.

The gentrification of the countryside and chronic shortage of affordable homes have also made it increasingly difficult for pubs and shops to find workers who can afford to live locally and survive on modest wages.

The number of people on waiting lists for an affordable home in rural England has rocketed to 750,000.

The Federation, which represents England’s housing associations, estimates around 100,000 new affordable homes need to be built in England alone to meet demand in rural areas over the next 10 years.

The NHF is calling on local authorities in rural areas to draw up action plans to address the housing needs of their communities.

Rural house prices tend to be well above the national average, while rural incomes are well below the national average – and this affordability gap has widened rather than narrowed over the last five years.

But a shortage of suitable land, a failure to assess local housing needs and local opposition often means the affordable homes which are desperately needed are never built.

A recent study by the NHF found a lack of affordable homes in rural areas was driving thousands of young people from the countryside to urban areas every year – with villages become increasingly populated by older people.

Federation chief executive David Orr said: "If the local pub and shop disappear from a village, it rips the heart out of community life.

"Many villages are now in real danger of losing their unique identity. They are becoming holiday zones preserved for tourists and second home owners, which close down for business in the winter.

"Affordable housing lies at the centre of the battle to save traditional village life. Unless we build more affordable homes for local people, they will continue to be priced out of rural areas and the shops and pubs they support will vanish with them.

"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."

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0 thoughts on “Affordable housing crisis threat to village life

  1. chris

    many of us dont want affordable homes built in villages. we go there to get away from antisocial behaviout that seems to follow affordable houisng around. shared ownership is probably ok as is key worker but if we had social rented (i.e. people with no jobs being given a house rent free) tenants moving into our village i can guarantee it would cause problems. affordable housing tenants should be pleased they get housed at all – they should be placed in cheap towns/citys rather than in expensive villages!

  2. DJ

    I totally agree with Chris. This particular campaign, and the whole “affordable housing” nonsense, is another example of this nanny-state governemnt and its local authority clones interfering in the free market, which will (as always) have unpredicted and undesirable results. Consider:

    – the only reason wealthy commuters and second-homers have been able to buy in villages is because locals have sold to them. If these communities care so much about keeping their villages for themselves, perhaps they should be more loyal to their own?
    – the migration away from the countryside has little to do with property prices. It has been going on for 100 years as the lure of higher salaries and less physical work have attracted younger country dwellers to become townies. If we provide extra “affordable” housing”, where are these people going to work?
    – pubs are dying out everywhere, including in towns. We are now a nation of wine-drinkers and home drinkers. This is not an accurate indicator of property over-pricing
    – corner shops are also dying out nationwide. Supermarkets have been killing them for 50 years. Again, not a reliable indicator
    – I disagree that village housing is more expensive than towns. Apart from a few “bijou” villages, you get twice as muich for your money in the countryside, versus large towns. The country dwellers already have an advantage over their towny cousins.
    – lastly, what IS “affordable housing”? It seems to me to be a lever by which land-grabbing property developers bribe local councils into letting them build estates where they would normally be prevented, by including a minimal element of “key worker housing”.

    Do you send these opinions to our esteemed Housing Minister? If not, you should. Perhaps he would slowly but surely start to see the mess that politicians have created by meddling in housing. Leave it alone, and it willsort itself out. You cannot buck supply and demand, which are the best regulators of availability and price in any commodity.