Campaign to Protect Rural England - Somerset

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Housing in Somerset

New affordable housing development in Barton St David New affordable housing development in Barton St David Photo: © Raglan Homes


Living and working in the countryside is increasingly difficult for very many people on lower household incomes. The Commission for Rural Communities found that the average rural house costs almost seven times the average annual rural household income in 2007.

A lack of affordable housing is one of the major threats to the sustainability and future prospects of rural communities throughout England.  This affordability gap is pricing children out of the villages they grew up in. It also has grave consequences for the services we rely on, like the local school, shop or pub as a lack of young families means fewer people requiring their services, and makes their existence less viable.The problem of a lack of affordable rural housing is greatest in the South West and South East of England, with Somerset one of the worst affected counties.

Many villages warmly welcome new housing developments. New homes attract new residents and provide homes for local people. This helps keep village schools open, and local shops and businesses trading, all of which contribute to the rural economy. Most villages have previous developed land within them which, with a little imagination, can be developed appropriately. Village infrastructure can evolve to keep pace with small, appropriate developments like these.

Villagers tell us what they don't want are whopping great 'toytown' estates on greenfield sites with hundreds of houses packed in. Villages can be overwhelmed by such estates, changing their character, and very often the existing infrastructure can't keep pace. People move to rural areas for the tranquillity and the community and this is what we want to protect and maintain: thriving, growing, lively rural communities.

CPRE nationally calls on the house building industry to commit to five principles that will help minimise local opposition to new housing. We endorse these five principles.

1.    A brownfield-first approach to identifying sites

2.    High design and building standards

3.    New homes with decent space standards

4.    Master planning for better places, not just planning for houses

5.    Industry support for a democratic planning system.


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Watch our short video explaining our campaigns on housing in Somerset

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Somerset patchwork landscape