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Affordable housing

Almost 20% of families in High Peak are living in accommodation that does not suit their needs and more than 25% are living in problem housing. Living in substandard housing causes health problems that put an extra burden on an already overstretched NHS.

In 2008, High Peak Borough Council identified the need to provide 329 new affordable homes per year, but since then an average of less than 30 affordable homes per year have been built.

There’s a lack of affordable housing throughout our country and High Peak is no exception. In fact, in areas of the Peak District that are within the National Park, such as Hope Valley, demand for holiday homes and planning restrictions add to the problem.

A broken model

The model of house building is broken and tinkering around on the edges isn’t going to fix it. Even when it works as planned, only a small percentage of the houses actually built will be suitable to and affordable for buying or renting by local people who really need housing.

We need a new model that goes directly to the heart of the problem. If the problem is too few affordable houses for the people, why stick to a model that might, if we’re lucky, deliver us a small percentage of housing of this type? We need a plan that will build those houses and to do that we need more involvement from our communities.

Charlotte Farrell, Green Party activist and Hope Valley resident, and Jane Reynolds, coordinator of High Peak Green Party recently took part in a seminar, hosted by East Midlands Community-Led Housing, to find out about new models of development that are centred on the needs of the local community, such as community land trusts.

Community led housing

Community land trusts (CLTs) are run by local people to develop and manage the homes that are needed in a way that suits the community. They can ensure that the housing remains affordable based on what people in the area earn. East Midlands Community-Led Housing can provide advice and support in setting up a trust and the really good news is that funds are available from the Community Housing Fund of Homes England, initially for building up the skills of people interested in working on community housing and subsequently for acquiring land.

CLTs exist in many different settings – small villages and big cities – to provide the housing that people really need. The experience of St Minver CLT in Cornwall is clearly relevant to High Peak, and especially the parts within the Peak National Park. It was formed in 2008 by residents of Rock, an area of outstanding natural beauty in North Cornwall, to provide affordable housing in their village. Over the years, house prices had risen out of reach to many as affluent visitors bought holiday homes.

We believe that this model would provide answers to the problem of affordable housing in Hope Valley. CLTs in Youlgrave and Bradwell villages are already working to provide long-term affordable housing for their communities. Could villages in our area be next?

It’s not just the purchase or rental price

An affordable home depends on much more than the price paid to buy or rent.

20% of High Peak residents suffer fuel poverty and cannot afford to properly heat their homes.

Community Housing can ensure that new housing is built to high efficiency standards using

  • The most advanced designs which minimise escaping heat.

  • Heat recovery systems that recycle heat that does escape.

  • Solar panels

  • Other technologies such as ground source heating coils installed in gardens to draw on geothermal energy.

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