Housing is a core issue for all rural areas for a variety of reasons:
- House prices are often beyond the reach of many people, particularly those on lower incomes. According to the Land Registry, rural house prices have risen 82% in 10 years.
- Building affordable homes can be difficult due to relatively high development costs per unit and the availability of suitable sites.
- The maintenance of sustainable communities and the very environment which attracts people to live in rural areas are issues which are close to people’s hearts.
- Demand from second home buyers and holiday lets can have a strong influence on the availability and value of housing in many rural areas.
- The social rented sector is small in rural areas and continues to shrink.
- ‘Rural exception sites’ are an important mechanism for delivering affordable homes in rural areas. These are greenfield sites adjacent to villages where development would not usually be allowed but planning authorities may exceptionally grant planning permission, usually with a written agreement that the homes will be used to meet local need.
Community approaches to delivery
CAN is supporting Community-Led housing, which puts local communities in the driving seat. It hosts Communities CAN which has been established as a ‘support hub’ for community–led housing, charged with promoting and supporting a broad range of these type of initiatives across the county.
Community-led housing is already a success story in Northumberland. Utilising funds made available by Northumberland County Council from its allocation of the government’s Community Housing Fund, CAN is seeking to build on this success.