The General Election 2024 and Devon’s Rural Housing crisis

We are calling on Devon’s election candidates to commit to radical planning reforms to solve Devon’s rural housing crisis.

Devon CPRE is asking every General Election candidate throughout all Devon’s parliamentary constituencies, to actively campaign for new local authority powers to prioritise affordable housing for local people and increase the stock of social housing.

We urge the incoming government to focus urgently on taking radical steps to overcome the critical housing shortage in rural areas like Devon, says environmental charity Devon CPRE. Our charity, more often known for opposing housing developments, is campaigning for the new administration to prioritise more social and genuinely affordable housing.

“We oppose up to 100 planning applications a year, because they are making Devon’s housing crisis worse, not better”, said our chairman Steve Crowther. “We want to see the right houses built in the right places, so that our teachers, nurses and care workers can afford decent homes and our young families aren’t forced out of the area by ever-rising prices”.

He added, “That means making housing genuinely affordable, restricting the ‘hope value’ of land allocated for development that’s worth ten times its agricultural value, and building large numbers of homes for social rent which are not immediately sold off under the right-to-buy.”

We have written to all General Election candidates asking them to commit to the CPRE’s No 1 manifesto priority, to fix the ‘broken housing market’ in rural communities. A major report by CPRE, the national countryside charity, last year showed that there were more than 14,000 people on housing waiting lists in Devon, and that, at the present rates, it would take 93 years to house all those currently on waiting lists in rural England.

“It’s shocking to find that fewer than 10,000 social homes have been built in Devon in the 33 years since 1991 – not annually, but in total”, said Steve Crowther. “Meanwhile we’re seeing Local Plans allocating ever more land for developers to build ‘open market’ houses which are snapped up by investors, companies and pension funds as second homes, holiday homes or short-term rentals. Average house prices in Devon are out of range of local people’s salaries, and constantly rising. Development land values rocket. The social homes that are built are then sold off under right-to-buy and join the rising market.”

CPRE’s manifesto is calling for ‘affordable’ to be redefined in line with local incomes rather than market rates; for national policy to prioritise social and affordable housing; action to tackle the ‘hope value’ that sees land allocated for development rise to ten times its agricultural value; and a clamping down on short-term lets and second homes.

“Devon’s communities are in desperate need of homes that workers and young people can afford, close to their families, jobs and amenities, rather than endless big greenfield estates of ‘open-market’ houses”, said Steve Crowther.

“If local authorities are empowered to allocate land exclusively for affordable homes for local people, we can start to turn this crisis around.”