by Phillip Vincent, ACRE’s (Action with Communities in Rural England) Communications Manager, blogs for Rural Housing Week 2021 and provides a view on the need for the government to get behind communities and deliver affordable homes in the countryside.
Recently, there has been growing alarm about Covid-related urban flight to the countryside, where housing stock is hoovered up by home workers or purchased as holiday lets or second homes.
Rightly, critics point to consequences such as the upward pressure on house prices, the inability of local residents to compete with this, the loss of younger generations, and the possibility of some villages in more attractive areas becoming empty during the week which in turn impacts on the viability of local shops and services.
It is too simplistic however, to put the blame on wealthier individuals desiring a better life in the sticks or to say the solution is to put an end to second homes or limit the available housing stock to people who have a connection to the local area. The issue runs much deeper and one which is about to be magnified as part of the government’s proposal to up-end the planning system.
The truth is, there has been a longstanding under-supply of new homes in the countryside, particularly those that are affordable to local residents. Successive governments have failed to address this, either through planning reforms or subsidy. In 2019, just 5,558 new affordable homes were built in villages with a population less than 3,000, whilst 80% of completions were private sector dwellings.
It is unsurprising then that the situation appears to be coming to a head at a time when people are spending more time at home and cannot travel overseas. England’s rural areas have many attractions for those seeking more space. To read the rest of this article from Phillip please click here.