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Page last updated at 11:03 GMT, Wednesday, 4 June 2008 12:03 UK

'Lost generation' in rural Wales

The story of one family who have had to set up home in a caravan

A report on rural housing in Wales warns parts of the countryside "will lose the next generation of young people" without big changes in policy.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation found rural homeless levels have risen more sharply than urban areas, yet there are 18,000 vacant homes in rural areas.

It also found average house prices were more than five times the average income in all rural local authority areas.

The assembly government has announced a range of measures to address the issue.

They include affordable housing targets for Welsh planning authorities, up to 5,000 to help first-time buyers with energy efficiency and expanding a network of rural officials to target need and available land.

REPORT MAIN FINDINGS
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Councils should use a significant proportion of second-home council tax to respond to housing needs
A network of at least 12 "rural housing enablers" should be established
The assembly government should develop and promote good practice in bringing vacant properties back in to use
A database of public land with potential for development should be created
A single definition of housing need and a single methodology for calculating them needs to be developed by ministers
Joseph Rowntree Foundation Commission on Rural Housing in Wales

An eight-month study by the Rowntree foundation concluded there is an increasing unmet housing need in rural Wales with the problems of affordability becoming more acute.

The charity's report found social housing supply was more limited than in urban areas and rural homelessness levels had increased sharply.

It said the assembly government's plans to build 6,500 affordable homes across Wales by 2011 were "ambitious" but around three times more properties were needed for rural Wales alone.

The charity also said the assembly government should develop and promote good practice guides for councils on how to bring vacant properties back into use.

The report recommends a "significant proportion" of second-home council tax should be used by rural local authorities to respond to housing needs in their areas.

Derec Llwyd Morgan, the commission chair said: "Unless you have houses, you won't have workers staying in rural Wales.

"One of the problems we find is that young people cannot afford to stay there, so they migrate to the towns and cities, leaving rurality to the older people or non-working people."

Steffan Harries, 26, from Trelech, Carmarthenshire, has been trying for two years to obtain planning permission on a plot of land he owns on the outskirts of the village.

There is a dilapidated old building on the site. He has been refused planning permission because the plot is outside the development plan for that area.

Watch an interview with Dyfrig Evans, who has struggled to get on the housing ladder.

He said he feels aggrieved that planning permission has been granted for around 12 houses in the village, none of which will be affordable.

He said: "There's a lot of talk about people moving out of rural areas to towns, you'd think that they'd try and do more to help young people stay in rural areas."

Primary school teacher Hedd Tudur, 23, works in Carmarthen and wants to buy a house anywhere between the town and Llanelli.

But on a salary of around 20,000, he said there was hardly anything he could afford.

He said: "You're looking at 130,000. On the wage I'm on at the moment it's impossible for me on my own to afford that. I'll need a few more years to save for a deposit, it's tough.

Jocelyn Davies, deputy minister for housing, said she shared the commission's concerns and she was "pursuing a range of initiatives aimed at helping rural communities to meet their local housing needs in a sustainable way".


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Bethan Rhys Roberts talks to Sian Court about her hopes of buying a house



SEE ALSO
Rural housing control calls made
24 Jan 08 |  North West Wales
Planning row over language favour
24 Jan 08 |  Mid Wales
Developer drops village home plan
26 Sep 07 |  South West Wales
Country living 'more expensive'
17 Jul 07 |  England

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