PROPERTY Rural housing matters Christopher Scott, MRICS The Isle of Wight comprises of many picturesque villages and much of its land holdings is found within protected area by the National Trust and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. For many years residential development on the Isle of Wight has been concentrated in urban areas such as Newport, Ryde, Cowes and East Cowes, with little or no development occurring in rural areas except for open-market housing as in-fill sites. People who have been born and grown up in the countryside and rural villages have not been able to buy or rent a property in their rural locality because there is no housing which is seen to be affordable, either to buy or to rent. Similarly older people who want to downsize and sell either have to remain in their houses if they wish to remain in the community. Some villages across the Island are in demise from a communal input. Shops, Post Offices and pubs are closing at rapid rates as they cannot be sustained. With a lack of new families moving, schools are also now at some risk. This coupled with the closing of rural bus services, and even rural libraries, life for the village and the countryman is becoming more and more difficult. The Isle of Wight Council have identified that over the next 15 16 www.visitislandlife.com years (to 2027) there will be 852 new homes built in rural villages, or service centres. These service centres are to provide sustainable centres for local people. These would include Wootton, Brighstone, Yarmouth, Bembridge, Godshill, Niton, Chale, Rookley, Brading, St. Helens and Wroxall but to name a few. New houses will be built to satisfy local needs and demands. Local people who have lived in the rural community for years want their children to buy their first home in the village where they grew up. They want schools and shops to remain open. They do not want to compete with second home purchasers for properties in their villages. This has been addressed by developers and land owners working in conjunction with the Isle of Wight Council Planning and Housing Department by taking in land, either in the centre or on the edge of villages. This provides housing for local people now and in the future. This can be provided as being affordable for local people on the basis that the land is being purchased at a sustainable price to lever the scheme to make it viable. In each case a local housing trust can be created in the villages to own and control the development in the future to ensure the occupancy is held by local people for their use. This means that housing can be provided to satisfy local housing needs for local people in perpetuity. Such schemes that are currently coming forward follow recent local needs studies. A typical such scheme is in Brighstone which has potentially been offered a new surgery, a new Brighstone/Abbeyfield house, discount entry housing for local people, sheltered housing for those people who want to downsize from their existing houses, and homes for rent for local families. Other schemes are currently at an advanced stage in Yarmouth and Shalfleet, and others are being considered in Wootton and Newchurch. It is interesting to note that the average property prices for instance in the Parish of Shalfleet is currently £650,000, and in Yarmouth £385,000, yet a 1 bedroom unit will be available in the scheme in Shalfleet at approximately £75,000 for a first time local purchaser. This is seen to be truly affordable. It therefore seems that localism is working to provide what the community wants and needs, where local people can live in their own communities as they have done for centuries, happily and at an affordable level.