Rural communities feeling the squeeze of second home ownership

People in some rural communities are finding it increasingly difficult to find affordable housing because of the popularity of second home ownership.

Representatives of church denominations across East Anglia were warned about the impact of second home ownership during the Faith in Affordable Housing (FIAH) conference at Norwich Cathedral today.

Housing Justice deputy director Alastair Murray said that high property prices, caused in part by the growth of second home ownership, was leading to a breakdown of the very rural communities these home owners wanted to spend their weekends and retirement in.

“This is creating a housing crisis, where local people can no longer afford to live and work in the communities where they have roots – priced out by second home owners,” he said.

“That’s why Housing Justice is holding a series of FIAH conferences to explore how central and local government, together with local communities and churches of all denominations can provide much needed affordable homes.”

The conference was also joined by the Bishop of Norwich and Chair of Housing Justice, the Rt Rev Graham James.

He encouraged churches to collaborate in renovating and regenerating their land and buildings to provide affordable homes and community resources for local people.

He said: “Strengthening and breathing fresh life into our rural communities is vital if we are to retain them as real places to live and work.

“Churches are exactly in the right place at the heart of our village life to take the lead role in creating sustainable communities.”

The conference was held jointly by Housing Justice and the Quaker Housing Trust.

The trust is currently looking at an application from Solo Housing for a finance package to help them provide accommodation for single homeless people in rural Norfolk.

“This illustrates the extent of local need that FIAH can help to tackle,” said Paula Harvey, secretary of the Quaker Housing Trust.