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Star comment: Homing in on housing dilemma

By Shropshire Star | Opinions | Published:

Ten thousand additional homes are set to be built in Shropshire by 2036.

At a rate of 500 new properties per annum, that’s a huge undertaking.

Some of those homes could even be built on green belt land, which has been included in a county development plan. Many will be concerned.

The issue of affordable housing has been on the agenda since the start of the Millennium. At times it seems there has been little progress in addressing the matter. We are no nearer to finding the solution.

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Young people have less chance than their forebears of being able to afford a home. Wages have not increased at the same rate as property prices, making affordability an unresolved problem. And as the stock of social housing fails to keep pace with demand, the issue of too few homes continues to blight the lives of many.

There are too few homes in the social housing pool and too few affordable homes in the private sector. It is clear the supply needs to be increased.

Yet that must not be at all costs. Shropshire and Mid Wales are remarkably beautiful and the countryside must be developed sympathetically, not bespoiled. All efforts must be made to identify and utilise brown field sites before encroaching into the green belt.

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And where it becomes absolutely necessary to develop parts of our green and pleasant land, it must be done so with the greatest sensitivity.

We must not end up in a situation whereby the very things that make Shropshire and Mid Wales so beautiful are destroyed as part of a headlong rush to create new dwellings.

There will be advocates on both sides of the debate. Some will resist development on the grounds that pleasant areas will be built upon. Those who campaign in such a fashion ought not to be accused of NIMBY-ism. They have a right to make their voice heard.

However, those on the flip side will point to the needs of local residents who need homes and local businesses who need workers. The aspirations of a new generation of young adults must be factored into the equation. The region cannot afford to lose its bright young things to larger cities and suburban areas.

Compromise must be found on both sides as we accept the need to build more homes but earmark them for areas that cause the least collateral damage.

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