“Colossal” need for more affordable rural housing

More pressure must be put on local and national government to increase the amount of affordable rural housing, delegates attending the Tenant Farmers Association’s 25th anniversary conference were told yesterday (24 October).

Cheaper housing is needed to make it easier for older generations to retire and allow new entrants into the industry, said Bertie Ross from the Duchy of Cornwall estate.

“The need is colossal. We have been working with 17 sites on Duchy of Cornwall land, but it has taken five years to get just five to the planning permission stage.”

Country Land and Business Association president, David Fursdon agreed that more needs to be done to get regional planners on board and make them aware of the challenges facing farmers.

“Regional planners are not switched on to the issues of affordable rural housing, but the opportunities are there if regional planners take it seriously and identify a need. It needs all of us to go on about it all of the time.

“There needs to be a way forward for those who want a way out of farming, either through retirement, or for those that don’t have the skills or resources to go forward.”

Natural England’s Poul Christensen said that the lack of affordable rural housing is very much part of the agenda for the Southeast Rural Development Agency, for which he is a board member.

But he said older tenant farmers should not use it as an excuse for not stepping aside for younger generations. “Any industry needs new blood – people who are prepared to do things differently, adapt and look at things with new eyes.

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