FAMILIES are being priced out of the former Castle Morpeth area by a lack of affordable homes, a new housing report has found.
The National Housing Federation says that an average of just 12 new affordable homes are being built in the area each year, while 11,650 Northumberland families are waiting for social housing.
And the average house price in Castle Morpeth is £275,364, more than 12.1 times the average income.
In Northumberland as a whole 98 new affordable homes are being built each year, with the average cost of a home standing at £180,427, more than 9.1 times the average income in the county.
North East Lead Manager for the National Housing Federation Monica Burns said: “Rural communities in Castle Morpeth are under threat due to a lack of affordable housing.
“Families who have lived in the countryside for generations are being priced out. They need new affordable housing or they will have no choice but to move away to urban areas.
“Housing associations are doing their best to bridge the gap, but they urgently need more Government support to build new homes. Developers face additional hurdles when building social housing in the countryside, but these must be overcome to keep villages alive.
“Hundreds of village shops, pubs and schools are closing year on year — social housing is a key way to keep local families in villages and ensure rural communities stay alive and well.”
The figures were released during Northern Rural Housing Week, which saw a meeting of social housing providers, Berwick MP Sir Alan Beith, the National Housing Federation and the Homes and Communities Agency to discuss the problem.
A poll by the federation in 2010 found 63 per cent of respondents from the North East countryside agreed there was a shortage of affordable housing for locals, while 61 per cent of those asked in the region said families and young people were being priced out of rural areas and 72 per cent said they would support a small number of homes being built for local people.