Average house prices in 53 rural areas are now more than ten times the average salary and living in rural areas is rapidly becoming an option available only to the wealthy. The number of second homes continues to increase, while affordable homes to rent or buy are increasingly scarce. For local households on lower incomes this means overcrowding, homelessness or having to leave their roots and move away. Local services and facilities are in decline and this is felt most keenly by those who have no option but to rely on them. Economic activity is considered intrusive and inappropriate in the rural idyll.
In May 2007, St George’s House, Windsor Castle and the Building and Social Housing Foundation held a consultation with key rural housing practitioners and policy makers to look at how affordable rural housing can be delivered without delay and on the scale now needed in rural areas. This summary includes a series of recommendations for action which:
- Enable local communities to take a greater role in meeting their own housing needs.
- Link affordable housing provision to local economic development for a sustainable rural future.
- Recognise that the churches in rural areas have a key role to play in the provision of affordable housing for local communities.
- Encourage the sharing of good practice as a means of scaling up rural housing provision.
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