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Tuesday, September 01, 2009

The impact of inadequate affordable housing provision

This article in today's Western Mail makes two key points that need to be noted. Firstly, the lack of affordable housing in rural areas has wider implications than forcing young couples and others to seek accomodation elsewhere. It can lead to the loss of important facilities such as the village primary school as well.

Secondly, those who say that England have more effective policies on closing rural schools should take note. According to the figures in this article rural schools are just as likely to close over the border as they are here.

Government rules to take account of the special circumstances of rural areas are important, as are any additional grants that can be made available, but at the end of the day decisions are made for educational reasons and on an assessment of how sustainable a school is. That is why the best way to make such a school viable is to ensure that there is sufficient affordable housing locally to keep young families in the area.

It is not an easy subject and not an issue that is being addressed effectively by every Welsh Council, but it is a lesson that needs to be driven home as Local Development plans come up for approval and Councils draw up their housing strategies. Rural exception sites and the conversion of existing buildings and empty houses into homes for rent, together with a comprehensive affordable housing plan are essential components of all such strategies.
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