THE number of young people in parts of rural Yorkshire is set to decline sharply as the cost of housing moves further out of their reach, according to a new report.
Two Yorkshire districts are among 27 nationwide expected to become so-called ‘pensioner pockets’ by the start of the next decade.
Both Craven and Ryedale are forecast to have amuch higher proportion of older people than the national average, figures highlighted by the National Housing Federation (NHF) suggest.
Hambleton is also identified as one the areas of the country on track for one of the biggest increases in the number of pensioners in the next six years.
The figures have triggered fresh warnings of the dangers of communities being lost to the UK countryside without action to make rural areas affordable for young people.
David Orr, chief executive of the NHF, said: “Our idealistic view of the English countryside is fast becoming extinct.
“Workers and families aspiring to live, work and grow up in the countryside can’t find homes they can afford.
“If we don’t build more homes, these places will become ‘pensioner pockets’ rather than the thriving, working communities they can be.
“All it would take to deal with the acute housing crisis in rural areas is a handful of high quality, affordable new homes in our villages or market towns.”
The NHF report suggests just over 41 per cent of the populations of both Craven and Ryedale will be made up of people over 65 by 2021.
This compares to a forecast national average of 29 per cent.
Of the 27 districts nationally where over-65s will make up more than 40 per cent of their communities, 25 are found in rural areas.
Hambleton will see an almost five per cent increase in the number of people over-75 in the district by 2021, one of the biggest rises of any area in the country.
The NHF report is the latest to warn of the crisis facing rural communities as young people find it hard to secure jobs that meet their ambitions and housing they can afford.
There are concerns that dwindling numbers of young families will make it harder to sustain schools, doctors’ surgeries, shops and other local services, further accelerating the trend.
Countryside campaigners have also raised worries that the Government’s plan to allow housing association tenants to buy their homes will further restrict the market in rural areas where, they argue, it will be difficult to find land where replacements can be built.