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NHF warns over lack of affordable rural housing

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A dire lack of affordable rural housing could turn vast areas of the British countryside into ‘pensioner pockets’ the National Housing Federation has warned

The National Housing Federation (NHF) has warned that young people are being priced out of rural housing as the number of OAP communities looks set to soar over the coming decade.

NHF research found that by 2021 the average age of four in every ten households will be over 65 in 27 districts in England. This is more than 10 per cent higher than the national average.

According to the analysis, West Somerset will officially be England’s oldest place by 2021 with nearly half of its households (47 per cent) of pensioner age.

The NHF says that the cost of buying a home in 90 per cent of rural areas costs on average eight times the average salary, and wages languishing below the national average, many workers and young families are being priced out of the villages and towns where they grew up.

The NHF has called for more new homes in rural districts which are planned at a local level so they genuinely meet local need, to ensure these communities can thrive for generations to come.

David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, 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 Government has committed to ending this housing crisis within a generation. To make this happen across the country now it must free up land and provide proper investment in affordable housing.’

Areas of England where over 40 per cent of the population will be over 65 by 2021 include West Somerset (47.4 per cent), North Norfolk (46.3 per cent) Christchurch in Dorset (45.2 per cent), and Rother in East Sussex (45 per cent) and Tendring in East Sussex (44.5 per cent).

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