A co-ordinated attempt to make it easier for community-led housing schemes to address the affordable homes crisis in a rural North Yorkshire district is being launched.
As reported in The Yorkshire Post’s Dales in Crisis series, the sustainability of small communities in the Yorkshire Dales National Park is under serious threat, with average house prices more than nine times local wages in some areas.
The Craven district, which forms part of the National Park, has a high number of second homes and holiday lets which have been blamed for contributing to inflated house prices, making it difficult for younger people to stay in the area and for older people to downsize.
Recent figures show there was a need for 126 additional affordable homes in Craven in 2017.
To help remedy the situation, specifically in Craven, the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust (YDMT) is setting up the Dales Community Housing Project in partnership with community organisation support network Locality.
It aims to make it easier for communities to develop proposals for affordable community-led housing schemes by helping groups get set up, providing advice and guidance, and help raising funds.
Groups will be put in touch with other community organisations that are already involved in their own housing projects.
Rima Berry, project officer at the YDMT, said the project was worth trying because past efforts to deliver affordable housing had not worked.
“In the Yorkshire Dales National Park now, we have more housing than ever before, more social housing than ever before, yet we have a smaller population and fewer young people than 25 years ago. Something isn’t working and we need a different approach,” she said.
Ms Berry, who is about to embark on a two-month study tour of successful community-led housing projects in the US, said: “This is a ‘let’s try something else’. It’s pointless just trying the same thing again because some communities are really struggling.”
The Dales Community Housing Project is being part-funded by Craven District Council’s Kick Start fund.
Paul Ellis, the council’s director of services, said: “We have already given funding to a number of community groups across the district and we are looking forward to the Trust driving these schemes forward so that they can provide much needed affordable housing.
“We have a grant from the Community Housing Fund which we can use to help communities establish themselves as trusts, and for items such as feasibility studies, housing needs studies, legal advice, professional fees, land acquisition and development costs.”