RURAL families in Dorset are being progressively forced out of their communities due to a chronic shortage of affordable housing for local people which is killing rural life, according to Raglan Housing’s chief executive Nicholas Harris.

To mark Rural Housing Week, June 30 to July 6, Raglan is calling for more government investment in purpose-built affordable homes which meet the social and economic needs of local people.

Around one in five (19 per cent) of people in England live in rural communities with populations under 10,000.

“New affordable housing is vital to keeping the countryside alive for future generations.

“But, it has to be the right type of housing in the right location that stimulates growth, diversity and prosperity,” said Nicholas Harris.

“Whether the reformed planning system can deliver what the countryside needs remains to be seen but if we don’t fix the problem, our villages will die, and this is already happening across the country.”

The warning comes at a time when house prices in rural areas are up to 13 times the average earnings in the countryside.

This means that local people are being priced out of the market by the affluent people who are buying up rural properties as second homes for weekend and holiday use.

This in turn is forcing schools, shops, pubs, buses and other local services to shut because they are unsustainable.

“Providing a small number of homes which meet the needs and aspirations of local people can make the difference between local facilities staying open and available for the wider community or being forced to close,” explained Mr Harris.

“Each year we complete three to four new affordable housing schemes in villages across the country.

“The positive impact on the sustainability of those communities is significant.”

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