A place to call home and being part of a community is something we all need. For many, Cornwall is that place. The Duchy has a longstanding issue with the amount, cost and standard of affordable or social housing despite delivering more new homes in recent years than most places in the UK. Cornwall Council’s focus on supporting people who are homeless to find a safe place to stay and to take actions to unlock more public delivery of housing has been warmly received. However, the impact of Covid and the removal of many homes for private rent, alongside a boom in house prices, has compounded an historical weakness.
Encouragingly, if all parishes around Cornwall would invest in a modest amount of new, affordable and social housing this crisis could be solved for the next generation. New homes could be built to a different standard, so they use less energy, help us achieve our climate targets and allow nature and communities to flourish.
Cornwall has the space to do this, with less of our land devoted to housing than elsewhere in the UK. Landowners and some key employers are now looking to invest in new homes for their employees. New innovative building techniques could speed up deployment, open up brownfield sites or dead spaces within our towns and villages. Whilst some major new villages are being built the solution is likely to be in the many small developments delivered in all parts of Cornwall. However, it is key that any homes are built to enhance and create sustainable communities, contribute to biodiversity, wellbeing and culture. New tenancy models are likely to emerge giving more opportunity for people seeking to rent, share buy or buy their properties outright.
We are starting a movement that seeks to bring fresh thinking, bold commitments, and creative approaches to how we crack the affordable homes crisis in Cornwall. We are bringing together stakeholders and leaders from across the county to begin building a shared vision for the provision of affordable housing. One that will attract the broad stakeholder support it needs.
This collection of creative and influential thinkers will spend time understanding the stark reality of the situation, examining current and planned planning policies and get to the root cause of the barriers to solving the problem. We can be inspired by examples of imaginative approaches and start creating a vision for change with accompanying pledges for action.
Emma Stratton is the owner of Scarlet and Bedruthan hotels in Mawgan Porth and co-organiser of the inaugural Homes For Cornwall conference held in Truro in this May.