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Rural housing week is a wake up call for communities - Farron

July 10, 2014 10:43 AM

 “RURAL HOUSING CRISIS IS NOT ABOUT BUILDINGS, IT’S ABOUT PEOPLE” SAYS FARRON AT AFFORDABLE HOUSING EVENT At the end of Rural Housing week, South Lakes MP Tim Farron is highlighting the housing challenges faced by rural communities in the Lakes and the excellent work many housing associations do in response to these issues.

The National Housing Federation is marking the week with publishing Rural Housing: Countryside in Crisis a short report focusing on four key problems that significantly affect people who are living in rural areas - the rise of second homes; fuel poverty; the ageing rural population; and overall affordability of homes in the countryside. Staggeringly, half of the 50 most unaffordable places to live in England outside of London are in rural areas

In the report, Impact Housing Association in Grasmere is mentioned as a case study. It says: "Impact Housing Association has completed an affordable housing scheme of 12 houses and 3 flats in the centre of Grasmere village. Demand for new homes was so high the scheme got huge support from the local community and was oversubscribed by 600%. This scheme is a great example of partnership working. The Youth Hostel association worked with Impact to agree a price for the site. South Lakeland District council put in money and Lake District National Park supported the project to keep costs down. Impact funded the remainder of the cost through borrowing and internal subsidy. The sale of the two properties at market price helped cross-subsidise."

Tim said: "Over the last forty years, the decline in social housing has been mirrored by the rise in second home ownership. In my constituency, there are 3,500 people on the council waiting list and almost 4,000 second homes. Thanks to my colleague Andrew Stunell MP, we now charge full council tax on second homes. But we must drive through policies which give councils greater control over the homes in their areas.

"As I always say, Housing is fundamentally about people and it's the people in rural areas that suffer the most. It's appalling that in significant parts of the UK, you need a salary of at least £100,000 to stay in the village you grew up in. And it's not just a few people - the problem is real, and it's widespread. We must build homes to work to make sure every local family as a truly affordable home to call their own."

South Lakeland District Councillor for Ambleside & Grasmere Heidi Halliday added: "Affordable housing is one of the greatest challenges facing our rural communities but we need to act now. Incredibly high house prices and second homes prevent many of our young people and families staying in the area where they grew up. Affordable housing provides a route to stay, work and keep links in the community. Rural communities need families and workers, our village schools need children, but in order to achieve this, we must have truly affordable housing to keep our communities alive."