The number of people waiting for affordable rural housing has rocketed, according to a new report.

The charter, released by the National Housing Federation (NHF) and the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) says that 700,000 people are on waiting lists for homes.

Over the past five years, the number of people waiting for rural council housing has risen by 37%. In Allerdale, in the Lake District, the rise has been 107%.

Threat

The lack of housing has forced many young people to leave rural areas, adding to the problem of aging countryside communities.

Second homes have also been accused of choking small economies, absent owners rarely spending money in local shops or attending small schools.

In Dorset, about one in 30 houses are weekend homes and houses cost 15 times the average annual income.

Solution

David Orr, NHF chief executive, said that the only solution was to build more homes.

But Caroline Flint, minister of housing, said the CPRE had campaigned against cheap housing in areas of beauty in the past.

She suggested building more eco-towns and praised her government for increasing council tax on second homes.