Merlin video highlights the need for rural housing
Published by Hywel LLoyd for Merlin Housing Society in Housing and also in Communities
Cromhall Postmistress Sue Baines hands over the day's post
A local housing association has produced a special video to highlight the lack of affordable rural property in the greater Bristol area.
In the South West, the average rural home costs 13 times local income. Around 49% of the population lives in rural areas compared to 27% nationally, and 90,000 people are on the waiting list for this type of home.
Merlin Housing Society developed the film for the National Housing Associations Rural Housing Week, which aims to highlight the issue.
The Chipping Sodbury based organisation, which is building a new post office, shop, and housing in Cromhall, recorded residents talking about life in their village. The results can be viewed on the association’s YouTube channel.
“The sense of pride that people had in their community was amazing,” says Peter Crouch, Development Manager for Merlin.
“We’re really pleased that – with support and some funding from our South Gloucestershire Council – we can help that community stay strong.”
The Cromhall development will see the village’s award winning post office and community run shop, currently housed in a portacabin, get a new permanent home. Nationally, around 400 village shops and 700 rural pubs have been closing down each year.
Merlin will also build two two-bedroomed affordable homes and a one bedroomed flat – vital in an area where the average home costs nearly ten times the average local income.
South Gloucestershire Council’s contribution to the scheme included the land as well as £100,000 of capital funding towards building costs for the new Post Office.
Chair of the council’s Adults & Housing Committee Matthew Riddle said: “The council is committed to supporting affordable housing as a way of helping to sustain rural communities in which our local residents might otherwise be priced out of the housing market.
“We were delighted to provide the land and capital funding for the Cromhall scheme, working in partnership with Merlin on a project that will bring a new permanent Post Office and shop to the village as well as much-needed affordable homes.
“I look forward to seeing work start on the site in the New Year.”
Added Peter: “The demand for affordable housing in South Gloucestershire is at an all-time high. Over the next five years we aim to build 300 homes to help ease this demand. We’re excited about the Cromhall development as they will be the first new rural homes that we have built.”
Jenny Allen, South West lead manager for the National Housing Federation said: “Affordability in rural areas is a major issue – there’s a much greater gap between house prices and earnings, making it even harder to own your own home in the countryside.
“As more and more people struggle to remain within our rural communities, the local economy bears the brunt, as rural businesses and core services suffer as fewer people are around to use them. For rural communities to survive and thrive, we need to ensure the right kind of housing is available in the right places.”
About a third of the South West’s population live in small market towns or villages. In 2011 there were 89,254 households on rural waiting lists in the South West – an increase of more than 40% compared with the year before.
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