Group warns of lack of rural housing

A RURAL pressure group has warned that councils are failing to meet targets for affordable housing provision in the countryside.

A new report by the Countryside Alliance shows there was a national annual shortfall of affordable units of 76 percent on provision targets last year.

And in rural, or semi-rural, local authority areas only 29 per cent of the identified need for new affordable housing was planned to be built in 2010/11.

The research also found that rural housing continues to be more expensive than in urban areas, while people working in the countryside earn £4,655 less than the national average.

The alliance has warned that if rural housing is unaffordable for young people they will move to urban areas, leading to the break-up of communities and a loss of village services.

Chief Executive Alice Barnard said: “The Countryside Alliance’s research highlights that affordable housing provision is a huge challenge in both urban and rural areas, but if the rural need for affordable housing is not addressed, and urgently, many of those communities upon which our countryside depends will shrivel and die.”

The alliance based the figures on a Freedom of Information request to all councils in the UK, which asked how many affordable homes were required in their latest Housing Needs Survey and how many affordable homes they planned for in 2010/2011.

Nationally, 81 per cent responded, rising to 85 per cent of councils classed as rural or semi-rural.

Northumberland County Council did not respond to the request.