Rural Housing Week - Valuing the Village
We at Rooftop are hugely concerned about the growing housing crisis in South Worcestershire and Gloucestershire.
For example, official statistics show that Wychavon now has the third highest house prices to incomes ratio in the West Midlands (10.2) Only Stratford on Avon and Malvern Hills are higher.
Households need an income of £58,405 to be able to afford an 80% mortgage on a £255,524 home; that’s the average local house price.
Private rents in Wychavon are £730 per month on average and they’re rising rapidly. Compare that to Rooftop’s average rent of just £407 per month which will be reducing by 1% each year for the next four years.
Where will the carers, nurses, gardeners, cleaners, builders, teachers live? Where are the homes for the pub staff, the shop workers? They are the people who work in vital commercial and social amenities that help shape a village into a community.
There is a national shortage of affordable homes a fact that the Government acknowledges, and it has pledged to increase the supply. We fear that these initiatives won’t help enough local people with low incomes who live in rural communities such as Wychavon. The Government has asked Rooftop Housing Group along with other housing associations to offer the Right to Buy, which will certainly help some people achieve their dream of home ownership. The question is, once these homes have been taken out of the pool of rented accommodation, what will replace them?
In villages the housing shortage is going to be even more acute. These rural homes, in special communities, are the homes most people want to buy but they are also the most expensive to replace… and that’s assuming that Rooftop Housing Group can find sites for replacements. Some villages are becoming either dormitory communities where people go to sleep rather than live, or high value retirement communities. The latter populated with the very people who are likely to need carers, nurses, gardeners, cleaners and builders to help them stay independent as they grow older and more frail.
We are committed to reinvesting money from the sale of former council houses within Wychavon. 21 years ago Our Chair and Chief Executive sealed a covenant with Wychavon Council to enshrine this special relationship. 21 years ago we had just 4020 homes, today we provide 6500 affordable homes. We are committed to meeting local housing needs.
As a member of the Matrix Housing Partnership we have sponsored local research into the way that housing associations have a huge beneficial effect in rural communities. “Valuing the Village” is the authentic messages from local people who took part are common sense, but there’s so much more to be done to maintain the “circle of life” that sustains rural communities.
We are working jointly with Wychavon Council and several Parish Councils right now; working to provide more affordable homes. We will have joint funds available to deliver a programme of new homes to replace those sold under the Right to Buy.
We relish the opportunity to have conversations with local people, to share our common concerns about the growing affordability gap, and to work together as a community to meet these challenges.