For too long Ministers have failed to offer anything more than warm words in the face of a rural housing crisis.
In 90 per cent of rural local authorities the average home costs over eight times the average salary.
It is clear that whoever forms the next Government, the rural housing crisis must finally be met head on, and with the same sense of attention as is seen in urban seats. Yorkshire is home to some of the most deeply rural villages in the country, neighbourhoods which will only survive if families can afford to create a home in them.
A study by the National Housing Federation showed that around half (44 per cent) of the 50 most unaffordable places to live in England outside of London are in rural areas.
On average house prices in rural areas are 11 times the average salary, making homes unaffordable without a 150 per cent pay rise for rural workers.
David Ord, chief executive at the National Housing Federation, set out the need for action when he said: “The traditional picture of the English countryside is fast becoming extinct. We know how difficult many under-40s are finding it to afford a home in towns and cities, but it’s becoming impossible for people to put down roots in our villages.
The unaffordability crisis in rural areas is putting local shops pubs and schools at risk of closure and ageing populations are putting pressure on communities.David Ord, chief executive, National Housing Federation
“The unaffordability crisis in rural areas is putting local shops, pubs and schools at risk of closure and ageing populations are putting pressure on communities.”
The Campaign to Protect Rural England summed up the scale of the house building problem when it revealed that in 2006, it was estimated more than 30,000 affordable homes needed building in rural areas each year to meet need.
However, he said that since then, that average has been around 8,000, creating huge pressure on rural housing markets.
The next Government must set out the steps it will take, either through legislation or financial incentives, to encourage the building of affordable houses in rural locations.
But affordable housing incentives are only half the battle. Safeguarding the future of Yorkshire villages will require a countryside commitment that preserves the very green belt that keeps Yorkshire how it is.
While our cities and large towns need space to grow, local authority planners need the power to ensure this growth does not come at the cost of green belt or countryside land.
The National Planning Policy Framework introduced under the coalition government vastly strengthened the hand of developers to build where councils have failed to plan. In 2013 alone, some 46,000 homes were proposed for protected land in Yorkshire, a third of the English total.
The next Government must ensure councils have sufficient powers to balance competing interests without being rushed into decisions.
Pressure on the green belt can be eased with incentives designed to ensure developers are not financially prohibited from building homes on the brownfield land already previously developed.
When affordable homes are given permission to go ahead in the right locations, how we get to them should be a priority concern.
Yorkshire has shown it can take to cycling, the Government should make planning permission dependent upon a commitment from would-be developers to set out what can be done to bring cycle lanes to new neighbourhoods, possibly through the use of section 106 financial contributions to local authorities.
IN FULL: OUR YORKSHIRE MANIFESTO...