Important article in today's Telegraph about the problems facing young people in rural England - who are finding the first housing ladder rung too high to reach. Something called the Commission for Rural Communities has discovered that in 53 rural areas of England, the average price of a house is over 10 times the average local salary. In many parts of England - the South, West Midlands and the North - young people are being forced to move away from their home areas just to find somewhere to buy. This undermines community stability and creates ghettos of lifeless tranquility.
So it isn't just Wales then! What makes it even more of an issue for us is that when young people are forced to move it undermines our own Welsh Language as well as community stability. This problem has attracted much talk and precious little action for years. And usually, people start talking about social and Council housing as if its the answer. To my market orientated thought process the best response to shortage is an increase in supply. We need more houses to be built - which means that Local Planning Authorities have to rethink their current approach. Not easy, I grant you. All of our planners seem to have been trained to find reasons to refuse applications rather than approve them. And there is the utterly stupid, lifestyle destroying planner's obsession with building on every green space in our villages and towns rather than on rural sites, no matter how well screened or un-prominent they are.
This is an old hobby horse of mine. Whenever I start banging on about it, people with letters after their names start accusing me of not caring about the countryside. The assumption seems to be that anything outside the thick black 'Colditz' lines on planner's maps which 'fence the people in' is on a prominent hill that can be seen for miles. Its time we expected our planners to be trained to have at least some element of subjective judgement.
I daresay the first comment will be about this change putting up the price of my own land. But I don't see why I should not be allowed to hold an opinion - just because it would benefit me. This is just about the biggest problem facing Government in Wales. Its a shame that the sheer distaste for the idea of the private sector solving the problem - and making some money at the same time - has so far proved too much for the Assembly Governments that we have had so far.