HOARDS of young people have left Yorkshire and Humberside rural communities according to a Government report on the State of the Countryside.
The National Housing Federation says that doubling the amount of affordable housing being built is key to keeping our rural communities alive.
Without young families many schools and local amenities will disappear and rural communities may become ghost towns – only coming to life during summer and weekends when second home owners visit.
Average house prices in rural areas of Yorkshire and Humberside are a staggering 40% higher than urban areas. The most desirable towns and villages such as Harrogate, Hambleton and Ryedale have average house prices more than 10 times average salaries.
The report shows that private market housing in rural areas has become increasingly out of reach of young people. Limited numbers of affordable homes are available for rent or shared ownership. The increase in those with second homes in rural areas adds further strain to the housing market.
The emerging age divide between the rural and urban areas will put key services including housing under increasing strain in market towns and villages throughout the region.
Investment and planning must be reviewed to ensure housing needs local people and especially young people. The Government has made some progress but more needs to be done to release surplus public land for affordable housing.
Julie Gamble, National Housing Federation Yorkshire and Humberside regional manager said: “Gordon Brown's plans to boost affordable housing provision must include homes in the countryside where they are urgently needed.
“The exodus of young people combined with the influx of second home owners and commuters have changed the rural landscape. Schools and local amenities have suffered.
The provision of affordable housing for local people is essential for our market towns and villages to be living, working communities rather than theme parks for the rich.”
The Federation represents 1,300 independent, not-for-profit housing associations in England.
In the North the Federation represents more than 350 housing associations, owning and managing 720,000 homes on behalf of nearly one and a half million people.
The Federation is calling for:
Better use of surplus public land – too much is being sold off to the highest bidder when it could be used for affordable housing.
Better use of existing buildings – affordable housing supply could be increased through a targeted programme to reduce empty property in rural areas, reducing VAT on refurbishment work from 17.5% to 5% on any adaptation that results in improved energy efficiency.
Restraint on the Right to Buy in rural areas of acute housing pressure, with equity shares considered as an alternative.