THE growing number of expensive executive homes being built in rural communities is forcing out younger generations, according to countryside campaigners.
The North Yorkshire branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) said villages constantly faced applications for large expensive properties despite an urgent need for affordable homes.
The warning comes ahead of a decision on an outline planning application for up to 39 new homes on green-belt land in Hampsthwaite on the edge of Nidderdale, near Harrogate.
The proposal, which has received 121 objections and one letter of support, has been recommended for approval by officers at Harrogate Borough Council. It is the latest in a line of applications that have been submitted in the village in the last year, with a total of more than 200 new homes proposed. And 56 houses – many of which carry a price tag of more than £500,000 – are in the process of being built on rural land in the village.
CPRE North Yorkshire chairwoman Jules Marley said: “Affordable homes keep communities and the countryside alive; they enable young families to live and work in rural areas and contribute to both the local economy and the strong communities within.
“As people are forced out of the countryside because they simply cannot afford to live there, local business struggles and communities fall apart. Schools close, the village shop goes out of business and the roads come under increased pressure. This is not sustainable.”
Ms Marley said the balance was being tipped as more retirees or commuters moved into villages.
In the application set to go before Harrogate Borough Council’s planning committee on Tuesday, officers say there is an annual requirement for 669 houses in the district. They add that the development site has already been proposed as a housing allocation for a similar number of homes within the council’s Draft Local Plan. They also say that up to 15 of the homes will be “defined as affordable”.
Terry Mounsey, chairman of Hampsthwaite Action Group, which was set up to fight the recent barrage of applications in the village, said: “We have houses that are being built that are four or five-bedroom executive houses. Nobody is building really affordable housing that young people can live in.
“As a village we would welcome some affordable development for our kids and young people so they can stay; however, more and more executive homes are being built which is just crazy. We are not saying no to anything, we just want the right houses in the right places. We do feel like we are fighting a losing battle half the time, but we have not lost heart.”