Wales: Policy on affordable housing is pleasing (and may help protect the Welsh language)

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Tue Jul 15 18:05:50 UTC 2008

Policy on affordable housing is pleasing
Jul 15 2008 by Simon Hart, Western Mail

THE Countryside Alliance's watchword is "communities", so we were
delighted to welcome the affordable housing proposals announced
recently by Housing Minister Jane Davidson. "These are exciting
proposals. Affordable homes for people who live and work in rural
areas is a major commitment of the Assembly Government," she said. One
year in with a new coalition I am pleased that rural issues are being
advanced in this way, although there is much more to do. A lack of
affordable housing has been one of the main concerns of our membership
and it is a problem with much more baggage than many facing rural
communities, especially in Wales.

On average earnings of £17,400 a year it is possible to buy a house in
just 28% of rural wards compared with 50% of urban wards. Young
families have therefore increasingly found themselves unable to afford
to get onto the property ladder in the area in which they grew up,
meaning they are having to move away. Added to this, many workers
crucial to the rural economy such as moorland managers and
gamekeepers, river gillies, livery staff and farriers cannot afford to
live near work, meaning, as for most in rural areas, a car is a
necessity and an expensive commute with spiralling fuel prices a bleak
reality. Under the new plans we could soon be seeing planning rules
relaxed to allow more affordable housing for key workers, for farmers
who are retiring and for family members working on farms.

The plans would also allow farmers to build a second home on an
existing holding for a part-time worker on the farm. Cutting red tape
will inject some common sense into the way we plan and build our
housing, and it will also allow communities to have a greater say
about their own futures.

The coalition's plans on affordable housing therefore make a great
deal of sense and will provide a boost to rural life on many levels,
not least keeping communities together, which will without question
also help to protect the Welsh language – something I am sure has also
occurred to the coalition.

Simon Hart is chief executive of the Countryside Alliance. He lives in

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