Shropshire’s new housing strategy and why it matters

Shropshire Council have recently launched their new Draft Housing Strategy document, which is now in consultation until 16th September 2020.

The strategy sets out the Council’s vision for housing in Shropshire over the next five years, and 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’s 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,” says Maria. “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,” says Maria. “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,” says Maria.

“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.”

Share your views

During the consultation period, a range of views are being sought by Shropshire Council on the objectives of the housing strategy and how they are achieved.

If you’d like to share your views, view the Housing Strategy online and complete the online questionnaire by midday on 16th September 2020.