Rural life “disappearing fast” as youngsters flee to city, claims NHF

National Housing Federation insists life in the country is under threat with lack of affordable housing shuttering pubs, post offices and schools

Rural life is under threat of disappearing unless more affordable homes are built, claims a leading housing body.

The National Housing Federation’s (NHF) Rural Life Monitor found that shuttering schools, post offices and pubs could be a sign that life in the country may be drastically altered in the future.

The report discovers that 52 rural schools – roughly one a month – closed in the last five years.

Make no mistake, rural life as we know it is disappearing fast.

Since 2011, 81 post offices met their demise alongside the loss of 1,365 pubs in the last four years, leading to diminishing village populations that could see almost half of all rural households have an average age of 65 or over by 2039 as young people flock to the cities.

And they are already doing so in their droves, claims the Federation, with a lack of new affordable housing behind the issue. The NHF is calling for 40,000 new affordable homes to be built every year to tackle the problem.

Last year, the cheapest homes in rural areas were more than eight times the income of typical first-time buyers, considerably higher than in urban areas.

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With Shelter reporting last week that one in 59 people in London is classified as homeless, the resulting influx of people is likely to put urban services under more strain than ever.

In a bid to reverse the trend, housing associations clubbed together to build 3,000 rural homes last with shovels in the ground on 3,700 more. In July 2017, the sector created a dedicated ‘5-star plan’ to ensure that all new rural housing contributes to local economies.

David Orr, National Housing Federation chief executive, said: ”Make no mistake, rural life as we know it is disappearing fast. Families and young people wanting to settle, work and grow in rural England are being priced out of areas they’ve known all their lives.

“The impact of this is huge. A lack of truly affordable housing is putting a huge strain on rural economies, populations and vital community services – schools are closing their doors forever to pupils and pubs are serving their last ever orders to locals.

“Housing associations are intervening to stem this tide. They are proving that just a handful of high quality and affordable new homes can transform rural communities, and ensure that our villages and market towns can thrive for generations to come.”

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Image courtesy of Jim Champion, via Creative Commons, with thanks