Housing Day: Shropshire’s new Housing Strategy and why it matters
As part of this year’s Housing Day today (Wednesday 7 October 2020), Shropshire Council’s planning policy team are explaining why having a Housing Strategy really matters.
Shropshire Council had recently launched its new draft Housing Strategy 2020/2025 which sets out the council’s vision for housing in Shropshire over the next five years.
The strategy, which has just undergone its first round of consultation, includes two main principles. These are:
Firstly that all homes are well-designed and of high quality, which will protect Shropshire’s unique urban and rural environments and ensure it remains a great place to live.
Secondly, that all Shropshire residents have access to the ‘right home in the right place’ to support and promote their health and wellbeing throughout their lives.
An overarching vision
Maria Howell from Shropshire Council’s planning policy team, who has been closely involved in the development of the strategy, explained that having an overarching vision to guide Shropshire’s housing objectives is important for maintaining thriving communities throughout the county.
“It isn’t just about building homes. We have to think about climate change and protecting the environment, design elements to ensure homes are in keeping with their area, whether they’re geared for supporting our ageing population, how affordable they are for different types of residents, and how accessible they are for people travelling to work.
“Housing touches every part of our lives, at every stage of our lives – and the role it plays is quite undervalued in that respect. The right housing is about much more than having a roof over your head; it supports our mental and physical wellbeing and enables us to feel safe, to easily access work and to put down roots.”
Future housing goals
As well as an overarching vision, the strategy sets out a number of key objectives for future housing in the county.
These include meeting the current and future housing needs of Shropshire’s growing population, ensuring people whose needs are not currently met through open market housing can access properties they can afford, and working to reduce homelessness by providing safe, secure and appropriate accommodation on a temporary or permanent basis.
“Temporary accommodation is a key part of our strategy. Everyone has different housing needs throughout their lives, and some people are not blessed with the support networks that others have, so it’s really important we can be here to support people who are facing homelessness and urgent housing needs.”
Supporting people and businesses
Other aims of the strategy include ensuring people can access a mix of housing types, sizes and locations to suit their needs, minimising the environmental impact of existing homes and future developments, and supporting the drive for economic growth by ensuring there is enough housing for businesses to attract and retain a local workforce.
“Throughout Shropshire, there are a number of areas where the gap between house prices and wages is quite significant.
“For people on low incomes having to pay to travel long distances to work, it has an impact on where they can afford to live – and also reduces what they have left to spend on things like food, heating and living costs.
“If people can’t afford to live and work in the same area, it could eventually lead to those people having to move away from the county altogether, which creates challenges for local employers who need local workers to maintain their business.
“With this strategy, we are aiming to ensure that everyone across Shropshire is supported in their housing needs at all the important stages of their life.”
The first round of consultation on the strategy finished on 16 September, during which members of the public, business, and organisations across Shropshire were asked for their views on the objectives of the Housing Strategy and how they are achieved. Feedback from the consultation will be published in due course.
You can follow @shropcouncil and @housingday on twitter throughout Housing Day, hashtag #HousingDay.