letter 15/04/05

I READ with interest your article on rural housing. I find myself in the same situation at the age of 32. I do not work in the area I grew up in, but face similar problems to those that do. I come from Staffordshire, and my partner from Dorset, but we moved to Bucks – one of the most expensive counties in the country for housing. I came here for my job which is farming and conservation, not a well-paid sector. One-bed terraced cottages in villages start at around 170,000 here. And the cheapest property in our village was 250,000 for a two-bed ex-council home. We love our village and support the cricket team, shop and local pub but cannot afford to buy here. We could find something cheaper in Aylesbury, but having lived in the country all my life we have no desire to live in a town. Rents are high, too; luckily there are two of us, but we pay 600 a month for a one-bed cottage. That is the cheapest rent we have seen for a rural location. I would struggle to pay this if I was single. We cannot see how we can afford to buy around this area and are considering relocating to somewhere more affordable if we could both find comparable work. My employer, the Chilterns Conservation Board, the body responsible for protecting and enhancing the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty recognises the problem of a lack of affordable housing due to our proximity to London. There has been discussion about including a policy in our next management plan to encourage local authorities to consider housing for rural workers in their housing plans rather than just key workers such as nurses and teachers. Sometimes I feel the government forgets the rural minority when it talks about its plans for new housing. Tracy Adams

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