FIRST-TIME buyers are being priced out and forced out of their rural communities.
A generation brought up in villages across Cheshire is being forced to fly the nest further than they would have wanted because of a lack of affordable housing.
A campaign by the National Housing Federation is calling on local authorities to regularly assess the need for affordable homes in their rural wards and then draw up an action plan.
North West regional manager Sallie Bridgen, said: “Young people and families are being priced out of many rural areas and local services such as village shops and pubs are disappearing with them, fuelling fears that traditional village life is in decline.”
Chester and District Housing Trust, which manages 850 rural properties, aims to help families and potential homeowners to secure a property but it recognises there is a lack of accommodation.
Property options manager Phil Gilbert said: “When a vacancy occurs in one of our rural areas the property is advertised giving preference to customers with a connection to the village.
“For our family homes and apartments in the rural areas, for example in Tattenhall, we have a very high demand but a very low turnover of stock, which limits the opportunities for customers.”
The Trust’s HomeChoice programme allocates properties in rural areas, ensuring that members of the public need only to join one housing register regardless of whether the property is owned by Cheshire West and Chester Council, CDHT, Weaver Vale Housing Trust or participating registered social landlords such as Arena Homes and the Muir Group.
But since 2008 there have only been 46 affordable houses developed in the rural borough of Cheshire West and Chester, according to the unitary authority.
There are plans for a further 60 homes to be built but it was claimed that the delivery of properties in rural areas is more time consuming compared to urban developments, due to issues including the identification of suitable sites, accessing necessary finance and addressing local concerns.