Cornwall’s affordability crisis is being noticed more and more by locals, as the younger generation struggle to get on the housing ladder.
Local business owner Helen Morton, speaks out about her housing situation and what she thinks her children’s future will look like, when it comes to where they will be able to live. Since Helen moved down to Cornwall from Plymouth, she hasn’t been able to buy her own home for her and her family. Her 3 bed semi detached home in St Minver which she is currently moving out of, has a market value of £300,000. Helen says that “£300,000 isn’t affordable for anybody,” and has been renting for a long time now. As a lot of others have found “once you come off the housing ladder, it’s difficult to get back on it,” especially for locals in Cornwall, as house prices continue to rise.
With Helen’s age group struggling to buy their own home, it’s becoming even harder for the younger generation to find a home which is actually affordable. Having said this, Helen believes it is a good place for children to be brought up, calling it “idyllic… but it comes at a cost”. Helen and her partner made the sacrifice of losing their own home in Plymouth, so that their children could grow up here. Helen expects her children to move away when they’re older in order to explore the wider world, as she sees Cornwall as “very limiting for them,” but with the hope that they will always view Cornwall as their ‘home.’
In Cornwall, the industry is made up mostly of lots of small individual businesses, which mainly provide seasonal work. This is because the county relies heavily on tourism to pay wages and provide job opportunities for young people. Due to this, it means that many people in Cornwall have to juggle multiple jobs at once, and Helen speaks for other people she knows when she says, “There’s a huge amount of people self employed”. Therefore, when it comes to getting a mortgage, people struggle as “they have to prove their income and it’s much harder”. These are points which people moving to Cornwall don’t always consider, but they are crucial in being able to afford a new life here.
Even though more houses are being built in Cornwall which are being classed as ‘affordable’, to the average person £300,000 would never be in their price range. This is why something needs to be done about it to keep the next generation living in Cornwall, where they grew up. There are some schemes in Cornwall which have been put in place in order to try and help families move into their first home, such as the St Minver community land trust. However, there definitely aren’t enough yet to tackle the problem, Helen adds: “There needs to be more affordable homes, and there needs to be more accessibility to them and less of these second homes”. The St Minver community land trust is part of a wider association ‘Cornwall Rural Housing Association Limited’, who established Cornwall Community Land Trust back in 2007. As there is such a lack of affordable homes down here, Helen believes “It’s not sustainable in Cornwall,” the way things are currently. The St Minver community land trust had two different phases, with the CRHA providing St Minver CLT with 8 self build plots and 4 rented homes for the second project; the St Minver CLT is one of the most successful CLT’s in England.
With projects such as these, it is possible that over time Cornwall will become less overrun with second home owners. It can’t be said for certain, however Helen says: “There’s been quite a lot of publicity about it, the fact that it’s not sustainable,” meaning that it opens up the idea about keeping more locals in Cornwall with new homes which actually are affordable. The sad part is that second home owners buy homes in Cornwall which they leave unoccupied for the majority of the year, taking away many homes which should be available to locals trying to get on the housing ladder. Helen believes, “They shouldn’t be allowed to only use them for a short time,” adding that she hopes “It doesn’t get any worse”. The whole situation leaves the future for Cornwall to be quite unknown at this point in time, but the more that people tell their stories and publicise the fact that the industry in Cornwall and the way it is being sustained needs to change, hopefully the quicker change can happen. For my generation and Helen’s children this is crucial, but she believes that Cornwall “may always be a playground for the rich.”
As house prices continue to rise, will locals in Cornwall feel limited by the small amount of homes available and the limited resources?