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Loss of social housing and its impact on residents in Beeley

Scott Cobb / Alamy Stock Photo

Sitting on the edge of the Peak District National Park lies the small affluent village of Beeley. With once a mere ten affordable properties, the progressive loss of social housing on Chesterfield Road to the Right to Buy and the Right to Acquire schemes has left the rural community with only three social homes under the current owner – Platform Housing. Such decline has left some residents with no other option but to part ways with their valued countryside.

Alice, a previous council and then housing association tenant, grew up in this part of rural Derbyshire and enjoyed the sense of freedom and safety it gave her. Playing outdoors with the few other children and exploring the countryside allowed her to develop strong bonds with others and fostered her feeling of belonging in her community. As an artist, walking into the fields, woods and moors surrounding her house awakened her creativity.

Losing an important source of inspiration for her work was not an easy choice, but a lack of affordable rental properties along with limited public transport forced her to leave her village behind. Most properties are aimed at tourists and people with higher incomes.

'It's only by living there that young people can appreciate the countryside and be inspired to care for it'

This associated affluence means that there is inadequate demand to support reliable public transport. For young adults, this further decreases their ability to be independent. ‘There’s just nothing there for a young person like me,’ admits Alice.

For Alice, having access to social and affordable housing, and the means to travel would have helped her stay and reap the benefits of living in the countryside. Alice believes that it is important to build suitable housing for different people, not only multibed detached houses. The future of rural communities is at risk if housebuilding continues to revolve around wealthier families and holidaymakers. She adds: ‘There has to be a way for young people to access suitable housing in rural areas at a price they can afford. It’s only by being able to live there that they can appreciate the countryside and be inspired to care for it in the future.’