Don’t make me move away, says Clare Dixon
A 29-year-old Norfolk woman yesterday told the House of Commons how she had been priced out of living in her childhood village by second home owners and tourists.
Speaking in front of dozens of MPs. councillors and special guests, Clare Dixon aimed to show government that it was not just the unemployed and low income workers being affected by a lack of affordable housing.
The office manager rents a three-bedroom house with boyfriend Matthew Raisbury in North Creake, near Fakenham, but both want to be living eight miles away in Brancaster where they both grew up.
She said: 'Since I left my parents' house seven years ago, I have moved six times around the area but have never lived in Brancaster which is where I want to be.
'A lot of the houses there are holiday lets or owned by second home owners. It's hard to find a private rented house at all, let alone an affordable one.'
The couple can only just manage the rent on their current house, which they were forced to take after their last property was sold to a second home owner.
Miss Dixon travelled to London yesterday to speak at the House of Commons event as part of the National Housing Federation's Save Our Villages campaign.
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It is fighting for more affordable housing in rural parts of Britain.
She said: 'I wanted to get the point across that this is not just a problem for the unemployed and low income workers. I'm on a decent wage. In other areas I might be able to afford a house but in Brancaster I have been priced out of the market.
'I should be able to put down roots, start a family and put into the community where I want to be.'
She also said the high number of second home owners and holiday makers in Brancaster, which have pushed rent for a three-bed home up to �850 a month, had left it a ghost village in the winter.
Miss Dixon, whose partner is a brick layer, has long given up hope of owning her own home in north Norfolk.
'Our chances are practically zero,' she said. 'You have to earn six times the average salary to get a mortgage. House prices start at �350,000. We can't even build up savings for a deposit because of the rent we're paying. We'd have to look further afield.'
Instead, the couple are pinning their hopes on a new affordable housing development which is proposed for nearby Brancaster Staithe. Once building begins, it is likely to have a long waiting list and Miss Dixon will have to keep her fingers crossed. She added: 'I want them to build more affordable housing.'
Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman was one of about 60 MPs who attended the meeting yesterday. He said the lack of affordable homes for Norfolk young people was a serious problem and would require some creative thinking to solve.
But he insisted the 50pc cut in the social housing budget announced last week would not necessarily make the situation worse.
He said: 'I'm hoping the new policy of localism will make it possible for villages and towns in Norfolk to plan the housing they need and want.'