FORGOTTEN NORTH: Pressure growing on spiralling housing crisis
Rachel Douglas, LA7 Excluded and Northumberland housing campaigner, Image: LDRS
Campaigners believe pressure is growing to solve a spiralling housing crisis in Northumberland’s “forgotten north”.
Businesses in tourist hotspots such as Beadnell and Seahouses have already warned they face a battle to recruit enough staff due to rising accommodation costs.
And it has led to calls for more action from local authorities, house builders and landowners, as more families fear being priced out of the area.
“The momentum is there, the support is there and the need is there, it’s just about getting something solid put in place,” said Rachel Douglas, who launched a petition demanding progress earlier this month.
“The council has said it’s going to build affordable housing, but we need to know more about times and timescales, it’s not just in the tourist spots where there is a deficit [of housing].
“We feel like we’re the forgotten north [of the county] and it’s about getting [decision makers] to realise we have these issues.”
She added: “[Before next summer] we need to be making a start, let’s see sods being cut and fencing going up.”
Douglas, who runs Home from Home, a Seahouses-based housekeeping service, mainly focussed on holiday lets, claimed she had to turn down business over the summer due to the scarcity of staff.
She was also part of a successful drive by the ‘LA7 Excluded’ group of businesses earlier this year to secure Covid support grants from North East councils.
A petition launched by her and fellow campaigners Laura Keen and Amy Dolon calling on decision-makers in the region to do more has gained almost 650 signatures since it was launched in early September.
And it has now been backed my members of North Sunderland Parish Council (NSPC) and Beadnell Parish Council.
Alan Trotter, vice chairman of NSPC said: “There’s loads of jobs going in Seahouses – everywhere in Seahouses, people want employees.
“But people have to move away because they can’t afford to live here.
“We’re in negotiations to get affordable homes built in the village, but it’s been going on for a long time now and so many of the houses going up for sale now are being bought for inflated prices to be turned into holiday lets.”
Following its launch earlier this month, Northumberland County Council leader Glen Sanderson promised the local authority was “working hard to redress the issue” and blamed the coronavirus pandemic for slow progress so far.
Words: James Harrison, Local Demcoracy Reporter
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