Letter: Young families vital to rural communities

While no one would wish to see the wholesale development of the countryside, Sir Simon Jenkins’ comment to the Home Builders Federation, that young families have no right to a home in the village where they were born, is a view that could hasten the end of many rural communities.


A lack of affordable homes creates a vicious cycle which if not broken leads to the break-up of communities, a loss of services and results in villages that have no long term future.

The rural population has grown by 800,000 people in the last decade, twice the rate of urban areas, driving up house prices and pricing young families out of the communities in which they work and in which they have often been brought up.

This problem is one of particular concern in the agricultural sector and among key workers.

Rural housing prices are on average 5.4 times the annual wage in the countryside. Those young people unable to find homes often move to urban areas, placing a further strain on affordable housing in these areas.

This can also increase the distance people travel to work with negative environmental consequences. Homes and jobs need to go together. Without homes and jobs there is no community to support local shops, schools and services.

Barney White-Spunner,  Executive Chairman of the Countryside Alliance

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Comments for: "Letter: Young families vital to rural communities"

Andrew finch

I good letter on why we do need to keep families in rural areas it must never be simply for the pleasure of the rich, hand me down farmers or the elderly .

We all need to play a part those that live in it need to stop the complete in nearly all cases objections, objecting to a turbine is some what different to new affordable homes being required and built , it does seem on occasion the only homes being built these days in rural areas are for farm owners who require one for a family member or as some one said the other day "they build some lovely 4-5 bed agricultural workers cottages these days and they are built under the guise of affordable . needed homes ?? .

It is also true many who do live in rural areas do not work in agriculture etc and do commute to work, so we need better public transport from our villages. Another issue is the poor farm worker who is in the scheme of things a pretty low paid worker he/she use to have his wage subsidized by a free house this is in many cases not now the case, as these homes are rented out at markeatble rents unaffordable to the average farm labourer so they too leave agriculture as their pay is no longer subsidized by a free home , please note countryside alliance, NFU some suppOrt for the agricultural worker should have been given here DO YOU NOT THINK????they have been replaced by low paid EU workers put up in grubby little caravans.

When an area loses its young families etc it turns in to some type of sad time warped retirement village thats not good for the future of the uk, more affordable homes are required we need to keep young people in villages and rural areas

R Suppards

What do you propose as an alternative? Legislation to give locals and their descendants the right of first choice of properties, at a vastly discounted rate, as such become available? This is completely unenforceable.

Picture this. You live in such an area, your children have left home and started their own families; now you wish to downsize. Your 4 bedroom village house is valued at £450,000 and you have a buyer from the nearest large city who is happy to pay that price and ready to sign on the line. Then, along comes the enforcement officer. He tells you that there is a young couple with two children who live in your village and whose families have lived there since the Domesday Book was written, and you must sell them your £450,000 house for £125,000.

Of course you're going to say, yes that's quite OK?

Building 'affordable houses' in 'desirable areas' will soon make them no longer affordable. Build more 'affordable houses' and next thing you know is that a predominance of social housing makes the area no longer 'desirable'.

Sorry, Barney White-Spunner, but market forces drive prices, availablity and desireability.

Andrew finch

Building 'affordable houses' in 'desirable areas' will soon make them no longer affordable. Build more 'affordable houses' and next thing you know is that a predominance of social housing makes the area no longer 'desirable'.

Absolute rubbish to the above , we do not in 2013 build social houseing estates anymore thank god.

A number of affordable rental and 1/2buy/rental properties put in small developements has worked very well, combine this with tenure agreements which are adhered to and backed up by reasponsible pro active landlords and we have no problem .

A big must is also to ensure tenants expecially in villages must have and prove a long term association with the area that is the way to go , not them and us clap trap.

Any development now consisting of over a certain amount of homes have to include a small number of affordables , we also need to build homes which we have already done in some villages which can only be sold for a very small profit enabling others from those areas to purchase when they come up for sale .

The predominence of social housing in desirable areas can never happen anymore , however the predominece of unpleasant people with equelly unpleasent views on others also make a place undesirable area and = a lifeless villages where once they were wonderful places to live with community spirit .

Some have become sad places where interlopers whine about the smells of the country side ,nobody speaks to each other , and many have a very over inflated and often amusing view of themselves


I was at one parish meeting where one such person complained about anti social behavior, rise in crime, etc etc and pointed the finger at what i imagine was one of the last larger social housing developements to take place in a village .

The answer from the police and others NO not to their knowledge and NO complaints have been made for a considerable time , it becomes all like listening to a bigot at first they are offensive then over time they become rather cartoon like and funny and nobody listens to them anymore .


More unsubstantiated drivel “A number of affordable rental and 1/2buy/rental properties put in small developments has worked very well” – no it hasn’t. I have several next to me and it is one problem family after another causing damage and abusing anyone in earshot. As a result private properties become impossible to sell.

“interlopers whine about the smells of the country side ,nobody speaks to each other , and many have a very over inflated and often amusing view of themselves”. More utter tosh – you need to look hard at your own misguided ideals.

Stephen Sanders

A similar situation exists in those urban areas which have become 'desirable' (the euphemism for wealthy people wanting to live in them: odd how poorer people's desire to live in them never made them desirable - presumably their desires don't count). For example, in Tower Hamets in east London the average monthly rent is £1300 and if you buy, the average price for a semi is £757K and a flat £342K. An Edwardian terrace house can set you back about 500K. This in an area with a great deal of poverty but close enough to wealthy areas to be 'attractive'. People have lived in areas like this for generations (I am one of them) and yet are priced out as surely as those in rural areas. The sale of council houses at knock-down prices has taken those properties out of circulation too. There is no obvious answer to this but the problem is the same.

eva land

[Absolute rubbish to the above , we do not in 2013 build social houseing estates anymore]

You look at the history of council housing and can see that some estates were built that were well built , good design and were quickly snapped up when Maggie started selling off our assets. Even high rise towers in the right place properly maintained and policed with private security and community areas paid for jointly by occupants have become expensive places to live.

A friend of mine's parents lived in such a tower in the Barbican in Plymouth and the three bed flat was worth over £300,00 when they died.

I have reservations about this special privelage to rural areas to keep families together. People have always had to go to where the work is. Many Shropshire people were shipped up to London to work in Covent Garden in the 19 th C.for example.

I agree that we need young families but we need them in Shrewsbury too and they are priced out there.

There really isn't any incentive to have children today as parenting is so unaffordable and is not considered a job in itself anymore, to the detriment of society.

Andrew finch

Eve, i am not implying social housing is bad , but the building of council estates did create the them and us mentality and yes possibly in geneeral it was the people with that view who had the issues .

Many estates built especially in our villages and our market towns were very well built far better than current modern homes today, the new modern home may be well insulated but thats as far as it goes the rest is cheap, and they are packed in like sardines and over priced .

Social housing now is thought out better , associations build very small eco friendly developments ,have small numbers of homes mixed on larger private developments and purchase stand alone homes too.

The old council house scenario is very nearly gone in our villages as the social estate homes have been bought and sold that many times many in the villages do not even remember the estates being social housing .Yes we need people in our towns and that is being addressed but we also need them in our villages etc too .

We also need to address the remaining council house stock in the uk very little now in shropshire however what is, is dire.

Social housing when started was for our tradesmaen and workers, some where in the early 80,s the powers that be decided to give priority over to the so called undesirables , however many hard working families and singles still live in social housing in our villages and towns many doing the low paid essential jobs, we need to address that issue and give priority to these people again and possibly a bit of respect for each other both ways from all areas is needed.

An area becomes rough because it is permitted to become that way through renters who have no pride in themselves or homes, lazy landlords who cant be pro active and other lazy services who cant be bothered.

We cant tell people how to live within their home but we can demand how the exterior should be kept ie neat and tidy, and that they be good considerate neighbours and tenants no law says we cant do that , and the majority do and are.

Cities however are another kettle of fish with far more issues .