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Devon’s housing shortage has ‘severe consequences’

  • by JW

The Devon Housing Commission pushes for more affordable housing – and calls for evidence.


East Devon is not by any means unique when it comes to shortage of housing – but even in a relatively affluent area, there were more than 100 people homeless over Christmas.

But this ‘temporary problem’ goes much deeper.

The Devon Housing Commission – made up of Devon’s 11 local authorities and supported by the University of Exeter – was set up in the summer to “develop recommendations to start to address the shortage of appropriate homes, which is having an impact on people’s health and the economy”.

The Commission fears that the housing shortage has ‘severe consequences’ for Devon – and has written to Lord Richard Benyon, minister for rural affairs, to urge faster action on delivering more affordable homes for the county:

The commission told Lord Benyon that the average home in Devon costs more than 10 times the average income, rising to 28 times in some rural areas.Lord Richard Best, the commission’s chair, said: “The acute shortage of any accommodation to buy or rent for those on or below average earnings is having severe consequences. Apart from the hardship to families, it is deeply affecting the local economy. It is also leading to a dramatic increase in the need for temporary accommodation, with ever-rising costs to local authorities and a growing population living in insecure, unsatisfactory housing.”

The Devon Housing Commission is developing recommendations to start to address broken housing markets – and is not only putting forward suggested ways ahead but asking for evidence from experts and the wider community:

The Commission is keen for Government to ensure more homes for local people by deploying the Defra “Rural Housing Enablers” policy in Devon to identify sites, work with landowners, liaise with councils and consult with the local community and parish councils,

Commissioners are hoping the forthcoming revisions to the National Planning Policy Framework will encourage more development for local people in Devon.

They also support government plans to moderate the growth of Airbnb-style short-term lettings replacing rented accommodation for local people.

Share your views by responding to the commission’s call for evidence at:

And there are indeed steps being made in Devon – from council-built affordable homes to landlords supporting a crackdown on holiday lets.

With perhaps a few more ideas to consider – from reassessing land value to looking at community-led housing to building micro-homes.

In other words, it’s about the political will to make choices and take decisions.