Rural housing need as 'challenging as ever' despite rise

The urgent need to protect and build more affordable homes across swathes of rural Yorkshire remains as “challenging as ever”, despite building levels in some areas reaching three times the target level in the last year.
Housing in the Yorkshire Dales National Park hit an average price of over 300,000. Picture: Tony JohnsonHousing in the Yorkshire Dales National Park hit an average price of over 300,000. Picture: Tony Johnson
Housing in the Yorkshire Dales National Park hit an average price of over 300,000. Picture: Tony Johnson

A new report by the North Yorkshire and East Riding Rural Housing Enabler Network showed a record 370 new affordable homes were completed in the 12 months to April, which include 199 for rent, 139 for shared ownership, 18 for discount market sale and 14 other types of affordable housing.

The desperate need for genuinely affordable homes in rural areas has long been blamed for an exodus of young people from many villages and market towns, and in particular in Yorkshire Dales National Park - where the average house price has reached £307,270, 33 per cent higher than the national average, as reported in the Yorkshire Post last month.

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Last year, the North Yorkshire Rural Commission, which was set up to examine the challenges faced by the region’s rural communities, heard evidence from the Network, which said affordability ratios in three of the districts of North Yorkshire were over nine times local incomes, with improvements to low wages were unlikely to come soon.

It also said that despite improvements in the delivery of affordable homes, back then, it was falling 32 per cent below targets.

The findings of the Commission, which was due to report this summer, have been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In the new report, Craven District Council Leader Coun Richard Foster, who is the Network’s chairperson, said: “Many rural communities are in danger of breaking apart, as young families and those on modest incomes are priced out of their local housing market, and local services close.

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“We want our rural areas to be accessible, sustainable and affordable for local people. We remain committed to tackling the challenges associated with rural housing delivery, in particular the high cost of building new affordable homes. And we will continue to push for additional investment to address the high development costs associated with rural housing delivery.”

The report highlighted permission being granted for 60 new homes in Helmsley in Ryedale, of which 24 will be affordable, a proposal for 12 homes and a community play area and orchard in Lealholm, and 345 affordable homes built across Harrogate- with 147 specifically in rural locations. A review of redundant chapels and churches is underway in Richmondshire with a view to using them as affordable homes

Coun Richard Foster added: “I am really encouraged to see such a large number of new rural affordable homes delivered this year by our housing association and local authority partners with the vital support of our Rural Housing Enablers.”

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