Devon communities are stepping up to address the rural housing emergency

By Alan Quick   |   Editorial Manager/Photojournalist   |
Monday 27th June 2022 11:33 am
Homes at Higher Shippon Community Land Trust in Cheriton Bishop.
Homes at Higher Shippon Community Land Trust in Cheriton Bishop. (Devon Rural Housing Futures )

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THIS Wednesday (June 29) an online forum, Devon Rural Housing Futures, will showcase some of the innovations responding to the vulnerability of Devon residents in the current housing crisis, with prices skyrocketing and rented accommodation disappearing from the market in the face of holiday demand, insecurity is increasing, causing stress for many.

The event is for individuals, groups and businesses interested in practical pathways for community-led solutions to rural housing needs.

A reduction in homes affordable for local people happens in the face of inflating energy prices, rising fuel poverty, climate and ecological emergencies, and a need for policy and action to ensure sustainable local supply chains. Many organisations have called for faster progress to energy efficiency in new and existing buildings. Housing shouldn’t cost the earth!

According to housing charity Shelter 17.5 million people in the UK are trapped by the housing emergency, including thousands of families stuck in temporary accommodation, those living in insecure housing as well as those living on the streets. Uncertain economic prospects and the deepening cost of living crisis has led to mounting concerns about a surge in homelessness in 2022, a report from housing charity Crisis with Heriot-Watt University says.

“The issue of housing and homelessness is complex, it’s ripping our communities apart. I fully believe that there is a way forward, it will take open hearts, open minds and for barriers to be shifted,” says Kaye Corfe who will speak at Devon Rural Housing Futures. Kaye tabled a motion to declare a housing emergency in Bideford which was voted in unanimously. Since then local Councils in North Devon and Torridge have united to declare a housing emergency.

Devon Rural Housing Futures (online on Wednesday, June 29 at 6.45pm) is the final free event in a programme from New Prosperity Devon supporting local people from voluntary, community and social enterprise and the cooperative sector as they explore ways to support the needs of local people and accelerate the social entrepreneurial spirit in rural Devon. This event is designed to build capacity in social economy networks  and  engage expertise in preparing for the interconnected crisis of our time.

Another speaker at the event, Alison Ward of Middlemarch CIC supports community land trusts in Somerset, Dorset and Devon.

She said: “Our job is to support a community group that wants to develop affordable homes in the local community and enable them to do it on their terms.”

The event is part of the wider Devon Social Entrepreneurs Programme led by the School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) in partnership with Devon Communities Together, Stir to Action and New Prosperity Devon. It is funded by the UK Government through the UK Community Renewal Fund, which is managed by Devon County Council within the Devon area. The fund aims to support innovative responses to local challenges and local needs.

What to expect:

• Speakers sharing expertise in community-led housing approaches, regenerative settlements, planning, net zero housing

• Breakout group Q and A workshops: community land trusts, housing campaigns, tiny homes, housing coops and more.

• Future Visioning

• Breakout group: Devon future housing visions, next steps and calls to action

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