Petitioners plead for action to solve housing crisis on Northumberland coast

Hundreds of people have signed a petition calling for action to remedy Northumberland’s housing crisis.

Friday, 26th November 2021, 7:00 am
Housing petitioners Rachel Douglas, Amy Dolan and Laura Keen in Beadnell.

The 689-signature petition has been collected by a small group of residents in the Beadnell and Seahouses area where the shortage of ‘affordable’ homes is perhaps most acute.

Rachel Douglas, Amy Dolan and Laura Keen feel coastal communities have suffered most as a result of the county’s tourism boom in recent years, pushing house prices beyond the reach of many local residents.

Rachel wants to see a better balance struck which recognises the important role of tourism but preserves the heritage of the area and enhances the community.

She said: “I can see the villages are now saturated in holiday lets and second homes. In the 15 years I’ve lived here house prices have soared and the housing stock suitable for locals has dwindled.”

Mum-of-three Amy, who grew up in Seahouses and wants to raise her family there, also highlighted the shortage of suitable family homes.

“Our ideal place to be is in Seahouses but the price of a house is now totally unaffordable to us and not even worth trying to get a mortgage.

“We have also asked for right to buy on the home we are in now,” she added. “We have been here 10 years and would love nothing more than to buy but the answer was no.”

They want to see more affordable homes built, pointing out that the former first school site has been disused for several years now and that parcels of land off the Broad Road in Seahouses and to the north of Swinhoe Road in Beadnell could potentially be suitable.

They hope their petition will raise awareness of the issue and kick-start an action plan.

The petition states: ‘We, the residents and supporters of the communities in Beadnell, Seahouses and North Sunderland, urgently request the council, landowners and housing associations to take action to remedy the housing crisis in the area, provide social and affordable homes solely for permanent residents in-line with prices which reflect the wages in the area.

‘Our community respects and embraces tourism, however due to out of area investments and the increase popularity and profits in staycations many families and residents are forced out of their homes or simply cannot afford to live in the area.

‘This is having a negative impact not only on the community but on local businesses who are unable to access employees due to the lack of residents in the area, despite offering wages in excess of the national minimum wage or living wage.

‘Without urgent investment in social and true affordable housing the area is not going to be able to sustain the tourism we rely on.

‘We therefore request urgent action to increase the housing stock in the area which is only available to people with true links to the area and restrict the exponential increase in holiday accommodation.’

Northumberland County Council has acknowledged that the lack of ‘affordable’ housing is an issue and says that council officers are working hard to identify potential development sites, working in partnership with other housing providers and developers and assisting community led schemes, to support the building of affordable housing where it is most needed.

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