Thousands of new homes to be built in South West to plug housing shortage

PUBLISHED: 15:18 24 July 2008 | UPDATED: 09:21 10 June 2010

Thursday, July 24 - PLANS to build up to 600,000 news homes across the South West over the next 20 years have been backed by the government after ministers accepted a huge house-building programme was the only solution to the region's desperate housing crisis.

PLANS to build up to 600,000 news homes across the South West over the next 20 years have been backed by the government after ministers accepted a huge house-building programme was the only solution to the region's desperate housing crisis.

Communities secretary Hazel Blears proposed setting a target of building nearly 30,000 homes every year up to 2026 after reviewing an independent report's recommendations into tackling the chronic shortage of housing in the region.

She said a third of all new homes should be sold or rented on an affordable basis.

Some rural areas, where local people have increasingly found themselves priced out of the market by second home owners, could also see more affordable homes built.

House prices have more than trebled in the region over the last ten years, the largest increase in the country.

Almost one in 10 houses in South Hams and North Cornwall belong to weekenders while 18.9 per cent of houses in the Isles of Scilly are second homes.

The National Housing Federation, which lobbied the South West regional government for the 10,000 figure for affordable homes, welcomed the minister's support for the planning blueprint.

Stuart Ropke, South West regional manager at the federation, said:

"We welcome the minister's proposals. The government has clearly recognised the desperate scale of the housing crisis in the region.

"House building has not kept pace with demand over the last decade, which has fuelled huge price increases and forced many families out of the areas where they grew up.

"Waiting lists for affordable homes and homelessness will continue to increase at an alarming rate unless we build more homes. It's as simple as that.

"These housing targets - if they are met - will give hope to thousands of people who had given up on their dreams of owning their own property."

Last year, a study by the National Housing Federation exposed the alarming scale of the housing crisis in the South West.

The region was the only one in the country to suffer higher house prices, but lower incomes than the national average, according to the Home Truths report.

The draft Regional Spatial Strategy was produced by the South West Regional Assembly and outlines how the region should respond to key areas, like housing, the economy, transport and protecting the environment, up until 2026.

Last year, the draft strategy was examined by an independent panel appointed by the Mrs Blears, who invited over 200 organisations and individuals to take part in public hearings held in Exeter.

The minister's proposals will now be followed by a 12-week period of consultation on any suggested amendments.

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