Liberal Democrat Councillors in South West Shropshire are angry to find that yet again Connexus, the local housing association, is yet again planning to dispose of properties across the whole County including in Lydham, Bucknell, Eyton and Church Stretton. Houses that are very much needed as socially rented homes and cannot be replaced at present

Whilst acknowledging that the properties for disposal need refurbishment and to be energy efficient the disposal of social rented properties has a serious impact in the local area as new developments are still prevented due to environmental impact on the Clun catchment area.

Nigel Hartin, Shropshire Councillor for the Clun Division said “The environmental issues with the Clun River have been well documented over the years. Time after time we are told that mitigation measures are in hand but as yet nothing has materialised that enables new development to take place. Having already lost many Connexus properties due to their disposal policy it really is vital that sales stop and funding is found to refurbish existing properties to the required standard so that they can be re-let to local people in housing need”

In addition, the Councillors are:
• asking Shropshire Council to use capital funding to keep these within the housing stock to provide homes for nurses, carers etc who can’t afford to live in the south west.
• Asking Shropshire Council to work with us all and the Government to make sure this does not continue to happen and use some of the unspent £9.8 million CIL funding to keep this housing in our areas.
• Calling on the Government to put in funding to upgrade properties to cut fuel poverty. Grant funding to help get them to EPC rating C. (through the Homes England)

With rents rising rapidly in the private sector it is really important that housing associations continue to provide homes that people can afford to rent. Councillor Ruth Houghton for the Bishop’s Castle Division said “I have asked Shropshire Council if they would consider purchasing these properties and renovating them for rent, even if at a slightly higher rent than a social rent, as it is really important that local people in rural communities can afford to live and work here.” Ruth went on to say “these properties should not be lost to the rental sector, to buy a house in Bishop’s Castle costs 11 times the average salary, rental properties such as these are essential”

Chris Naylor, the Liberal Democrats South Shropshire Parliamentary Candidate – who lives in Church Stretton near two of the properties for sale – comments:

“It’s very sad to see yet more homes going for auction when we all know there’s a housing crisis, and in particular, a serious shortage of low-cost rental properties in rural locations. With high fuel costs, and inadequate public transport, families need homes in the rural communities where they work – not to have to commute miles from urban centres.

“Housing associations are of course subject to this Government’s rules and funding constraints. But this seems yet another case of rules which work in the city just not being right for Shropshire’s rural villages – yet another reminder that this Government is taking Shropshire residents for granted.”