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Rural homes concern

PUBLISHED: 06:00 04 August 2011 | UPDATED: 17:49 04 August 2011

RURAL communities could “shrivel and die” if the Government fails to build enough affordable housing in the countryside, campaigners are warning.

New figures showed that local authorities planned to build only a fraction of the required number of inexpensive homes in 2010-11.

Of 135 rural and semi-rural councils in England, there was an identified annual need of 76,532 homes but a target of only 17,208 - a shortfall of 78%.

No figures were provided for the Countryside Alliance’s study by Mid Suffolk or Waveney District Councils but data from St Edmundsbury Borough and Babergh District Councils showed that, respectively, they would be meeting 61% and 60% of need - some of the highest results in the country.

Data for Suffolk Coastal District Council indicated that just 14% of the required homes were planned - a figure the council disputed, saying targets set by its housing needs survey had been met.

A spokesman said: “Suffolk Coastal is not a housing authority and the only way in which it can encourage new affordable homes to be built is through its planning policies.

“These have been altered in recent years to encourage more affordable homes to be built, which includes insisting that a percentage of any new medium to large housing development should be affordable homes.”

The Countryside Alliance warned that a lack of affordable rural homes could lead to the break-up of communities and a loss of services.

Chief executive Alice Barnard said: “The research highlights that affordable housing provision is a huge challenge. But if the rural need for affordable housing is not addressed, and urgently, many of those communities upon which our countryside depends will shrivel and die.”

A Communities and Local Government spokesman said councils were being given “substantial extra funding” if they build new homes, with extra cash for affordable homes.

There’s a problem when it comes to men and mental health. It’s not that men’s mental health is any worse than women’s mental health. It’s just that men are not so good in talking about it and, crucially, seeking help. That could be one of the reasons behind the shocking statistic that three out of every four suicides are men.

The Orwell Bridge is expected to close for the third time this winter as high winds are forecast again on Wednesday night.

Essex Wildlife Trust has responded to reports that a black panther has been sighted in a rural village in the county.

Feeling safe on the streets, career prospects and retirement plans are among the top concerns for women in Suffolk and Essex, a survey reveals.

Proposals to build a new multi-million pound rail depot on the Suffolk/Essex border at Brantham near Manningtree are being reconsidered by Greater Anglia.

A mentally-ill Bury St Edmunds man accused of killing a 57-year-old man by stabbing him multiple times has admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

Plans to build a new records office and heritage centre on the University of Suffolk campus near Ipswich Waterfront have been formally approved by Suffolk County Council.

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