Affordable housing in 'dire situation'
THE shortage of affordable housing in East Anglia is becoming a "dire situation" for both house hunters and local communities.MPs in Suffolk and Essex have echoed the warnings issued by the Prince of Wales yesterday , who called on landowners and businesses to use their properties to develop low-cost housing in rural communities.
THE shortage of affordable housing in East Anglia is becoming a "dire situation" for both house hunters and local communities.
MPs in Suffolk and Essex have echoed the warnings issued by the Prince of Wales yesterday , who called on landowners and businesses to use their properties to develop low-cost housing in rural communities.
The rural housing crisis has created a "desperate situation", particularly for the young, he warned. They are being priced out of their childhood villages which, in turn, is slowly stripping rural regions of the community spirit which has been developed over generations.
The Prince's fears were echoed by Suffolk Coastal MP John Gummer, who said: "It's a dire situation. The problem is a housing shortage which is very, very serious indeed. It's immensely larger than anyone has admitted. We are building fewer houses than we did after the First World War."
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He added that people coming from outside and looking to buy houses in the area, therefore driving up prices, adding to the problem.
David Ruffley, MP for Bury St Edmunds, said: "There's clearly a need for affordable housing and the problem's exacerbated by inward migration."
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However, he said it was compounded by a new regional housing strategy, which meant that money available for social housing was being put in a regional pot and redistributed to help poorer areas.
The Prince was speaking at a gathering at St James's Palace, and said that the issue has "concerned" him for many years, as he backed measures aimed at providing affordable housing, especially for low-income families and key workers.
Urging landowners, businessmen and farmers to find innovative ways to help, the Prince said he was "acutely aware of the capacity of the business community to make a difference - even if it is not always realised immediately."
Robert Davidson, Colchester Borough Council's portfolio holder for housing, said: "It is a sad situation that young people have to move out of the areas they grew up in to find houses in their price bracket. Colchester has already made good progress to address this problem in places like Fingringhoe, Layer-de La Haye and Dedham.
"The Rural Housing Trust can buy land next to a village at a low cost to develop rural housing, which is only available to local people. But it all hinges on the co-operation of the landowners and farmers so it is great Prince Charles is urging them to do this. My only concern is: 'Why should the farmer be the charity?'"
David Simmonds, spokesman for the Council for the Protection of Rural Essex, said: "On the one hand we are concerned about the development of greenfield sites, using the precious countryside for housing.
"On the other hand we recognise that there is a need in the county for affordable housing for local residents. This helps keep the rural communities alive and stops villages becoming dormitory towns."
Meanwhile Richard Ward, director of the Suffolk Preservation Society, said the society would be challenging new targets in Babergh District Council's local plan for affordable housing because they felt they were too low and too focused on urban areas.
But Graham Thomas, Babergh's local plan warned that setting higher percentages of social housing on new developments was a very high risk strategy that could result in no such housing being built in Babergh.