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Families priced out of rural areas

Swathes of rural England are set to become "pensioner pockets" in the next six years as young families find themselves priced out of the areas they grew up in, the National Housing Federation (NHF) has warned.

Analysis of population trends released a list of England's top pensioner pockets - where more than four in every 10 (40%) households will contain people aged over 65 in six years' time, compared with the predicted national average of 29%.

Out of the 27 districts on the list, 25 are rural, raising concerns that the idea of living and working in the countryside is disappearing, the report said.

West Somerset had the highest projected proportion of pensioner households by 2021, with nearly half (47%) of households there expected to be headed by someone aged over 65.

North Norfolk, East and West Devon, East and West Dorset, the New Forest, South Lakeland, the Malvern Hills, Ryedale, the Derbyshire Dales and the Cotswold district were also on the list.

The NHF, which said the findings are evidence of a "chronic housing crisis in rural England," said the analysis is based on figures from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).

The Federation said that a lack of affordable housing in rural areas will put pressure on small businesses which will struggle to find local workers, as well as schools in places where families have had to move away and health and support services needed to care for ageing communities.

David Orr, chief executive of the NHF, said: "Our idealistic view of the English countryside is fast becoming extinct. Workers and families aspiring to live, work and grow up in the countryside can't find homes they can afford. If we don't build more homes, these places will become 'pensioner pockets' rather than the thriving, working communities they can be.

"All it would take to deal with the acute housing crisis in rural areas is a handful of high quality, affordable new homes in our villages or market towns."

The NHF, which compiled the figures for Rural Housing Week, also highlighted the top 20 areas in England predicted to see the biggest percentage point jumps in households headed by people aged over 75 between 2011 and 2021. Lichfield, South Staffordshire, Wyre Forest and Test Valley came top of the list.

In Lichfield, for example, just under 14% of households were headed by over-75s in 2011 and by 2021 this is expected to have increased by around 5.8 percentage points, to 19.8%.

Housing Minister Brandon Lewis said: "We're determined to ensure that anyone who works hard and aspires to become a homeowner has the opportunity to do so - whether in our cities, towns or in rural areas.

"That's why we've introduced schemes such as Help to Buy, which have enabled more than 100,000 people buy a home with a fraction of the deposit they would normally require, and why we'll deliver 200,000 Starter Homes available to young first-time buyers at a 20% discount.

"Our affordable housebuilding efforts are exceeding ambitions and delivering more than 260,000 affordable homes, providing new quality homes that are available to rent or to buy through our shared ownership scheme.

Here are the areas of England where over 40% of households are predicted to be headed by people aged over 65 by 2021 according to the NHF (urban areas are specified as such, with the remainder classed as being rural):

:: West Somerset, 47.4%

:: North Norfolk, 46.3%

:: Christchurch (urban), 45.2%

:: Rother, 45.0%

:: Tendring, 44.5%

:: East Devon, 44.5%

:: East Dorset, 44.2%

:: New Forest, 42.8%

:: South Lakeland, 42.7%

:: West Dorset, 42.6%

:: East Lindsey, 42.3%

:: Malvern Hills, 42.2%

:: Arun (urban), 42.0%

:: Purbeck, 41.9%

:: West Devon, 41.8%

:: Craven, 41.7%

:: Ryedale, 41.6%

:: Derbyshire Dales, 41.5%

:: Isle of Wight, 41.3%

:: Waveney, 41.0%

:: Torridge, 40.9%

:: Wealden, 40.7%

:: South Hams, 40.6%

:: Wyre, 40.3%

:: Cotswold, 40.2%

:: Eden, 40.1%

:: Babergh, 40.1%

And here are the top 20 areas in England predicted to see the biggest percentage point jumps in the proportion of households headed by people aged over 75 between 2011 and 2021, according to the NHF (urban areas are specified as such, with the remainder classed as being rural) :

1. Lichfield, 5.8%

2. South Staffordshire, 5.7%

3. Wyre Forest, 5.6%

4. Test Valley, 5.1%

5. Kensington and Chelsea (urban), 5.0%

6. Hart, 4.9%

7. Hambleton, 4.8%

=8. Maldon, 4.7%

=8. Babergh, 4.7%

=10. Stratford-on-Avon, 4.6%

=10. Malvern Hills, 4.6%

=10. Castle Point, (urban), 4.6%

=13. South Lakeland, 4.5%

=13. West Devon, 4.5%

=15. Forest of Dean, 4.4%

=15. Eden, 4.4%

=15. Derbyshire Dales, 4.4%

=15. Mid Suffolk, 4.4%

19. West Lancashire, 4.3%

20. Staffordshire Moorlands, 4.2%


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