The richest landowners in England are being asked to help alleviate the national housing crisis by making land available for building new homes.
According to a recent recommendation from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), those who own 5,000 of England’s largest country estate are in a position to create economic growth, employment, and housing in areas of the country where the population is declining. RICS is lobbying the government to launch more schemes to support building new homes on unused land.
At present there is a shortfall of 76% in rural housing, which is compelling people to leave country communities and driving up house prices to such an extent that homes are unaffordable.
The call went out as recent figures revealed that in December, house prices in the UK grew at their most rapid rate in eight months. This happened amid warnings that a deficit of new homes could drive price growth even higher.
Data compiled by Nationwide revealed that prices went up by an average of 0.8% in December, in increase from the 0.1% growth experienced in November.
Sir Peter Erskine, who has constructed 22 affordable properties on his family estate in the East of Fife, Scotland, commented that large estates represent a solution to dwindling population levels in rural communities.
The area near the Cambo estate lost a post office and grocery shop in recent times, and the local school is facing a dearth of pupils.
Sir Peter said that he cared about the well-being of the community, and as major stakeholders, landowners can do a lot of good.
150 staff are employed at the Cambo estate during the peak season, but he warned that if affordable housing is not available, the area’s slow decline can’t be halted.
Jeremy Blackburn, RICs’ head of policy, said that small quantities of affordable housing can make rural communities more viable. He added that the rural housing crisis could be solved if only 10 homes were built in each of the 1,600 small towns in rural England.