Select Committee on Office of the Deputy Prime Minister: Housing, Planning, Local Government and the Regions Written Evidence

Memorandum by Margaret Craske (AH 15)

  Thank you for the opportunity to communicate so quickly and easily. I am cabinet member for housing and health in North Norfolk District Council.

  Our main problem is that private housing is snapped up by older people to retire in this quiet and beautiful area. Our local young people cannot afford to stay and live here due to many second and holiday homes. We need to set our own key worker definition and to be able to increase the weighting to those in low paid employment. We do this for exception schemes but cannot build enough properties just by that. We have built over 100 new subsidised homes each year for the last two years but have demand for a 1,000!!! Private builders do not build large enough schemes to provide many affordable ones. We do not want to build huge numbers in beautiful conservation countryside which is the reason for our tourist industry but there are insufficient staff to work, for low wages, to keep hotels and B&B, restaurants and pubs well served. The care industry is not going to keep up with the demands of our elderly rural population especially as the health and social service budgets are cut while people are helped to stay in their own homes instead of residential and sheltered accommodation.

  We won "Beacon" status for preventing homelessness and avoiding B&B use for the homeless. We have leased private houses to put them in but have huge need for cheaper rented accommodation for young families to move on into. They then want to take part in schemes to buy a share in a home—at the moment if two are working (essential to have enough resource to pay) they do not qualify for the few available houses.

  The use of the concept of sustainability in a rural area like ours must include keeping a balance of ages and skills not just distance to shops, schools and work. We want to sustain villages by building six to 10 houses on demand with co-operation of parish councils and RSLs. We need to be able to form Trusts which can borrow or cross subsidise by selling a percentage to fund the others.

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