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Rich blamed for rural housing crisis

PUBLISHED: 09:25 12 June 2006 | UPDATED: 10:59 22 October 2010

STEVE DOWNES

Spiralling rural house prices could turn many East Anglian villages into ghettos for the rich, a hard-hitting report claims today. And another damning report by the same organisation says one in five people in rural areas is living in poverty.

Spiralling rural house prices could turn many East Anglian villages into ghettos for the rich, a hard-hitting report claims today.

And another damning report by the same organisation says one in five people in rural areas is living in poverty.

The Commission for Rural Communities will unveil Rural Housing - a Place in the Countryside tomorrow at Brancaster, one of the villages pinpointed as facing a crisis in community housing.

The commission spoke to hundreds of people in villages across the UK about the problems caused by the lack of affordable housing.

It said measures to increase the number of affordable homes were failing to stop many young people from being priced out of staying in their communities.

And it said 5,657 new affordable rural homes were needed in the East of England in each of the next five years to meet need and clear the current backlog.

The CRC report found that in Brancaster - part of the Chelsea-on-Sea area of north-west Norfolk, which is a magnet for wealthy second-home owners - the biggest barrier to affordable homes

for local people was the large number of second homes.

Respondents also cited the limited range of houses of different sizes, lack of jobs and restrictive planning regulations.

Caroline Cotterell, who led the inquiry, said: "Brancaster and the Norfolk coast is a beautiful place to live and visit, but time and again people told us of their frustration at the demand for holiday homes and second homes driving house prices well beyond the reach of people on local incomes - both to buy and to rent.

"They told us their concerns about changes in the local community as young people and young families in particular are being forced to move away.

"People were passionate about keeping the area beautiful, but argued strongly for carefully designed, new development of social and affordable housing to help people with local connections stay close to their families and friends, or take up local employment."

The CRC's Rural Disadvantage: Priorities for Action report - released today - adds to the gloomy picture painted.

It says one in five people in rural areas lives below the poverty line - but almost half do not recognise that there is disadvantage in their area.

The report says traditional attitudes like "pride and self-reliance" stop people seeking help as they do not want to draw attention to themselves.

Of those surveyed, 78pc said it was difficult to find decent affordable housing, while 64pc complained that it was hard to find a well-paid job.

Rural isolation was also highlighted in the report, which found that wages were as low as £3 a day for migrant workers in one area, and called for action to improve the "poor" take-up of benefits in rural areas.

It also highlighted the need for improved rural transport and local services.

Dr Stuart Burgess, chairman of CRC's parent body, the Countryside Agency, said: "This report gives a clear indication of where action is most needed and most urgent.

"We owe it to the people in need in rural areas to recognise their problems and to take action to tackle them."

Regional and local organisations will give their views at tomorrow's unveiling of the rural housing report at Brancaster.

Andrew Budden, from the East of England Rural Forum and Hastoe Housing Association, and Mike Cramp, Norfolk's rural housing enabler, will be outlining recent work to address housing problems and how local people can strengthen the influence they have in shaping housing decisions.

Mr Budden welcomed the CRC's return to Brancaster as an indication that the issue of affordable housing in rural areas was finally being taken seriously.

t The presentation will be held at Simms Reeve Institute in Main Road, Brancaster from 6.30-9pm.


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