Mendip area confronts severe housing crisis as thousands wait for council homes

By Laura Linham

15th Oct 2023 | Local Sport

Tadley Acres in Shepton Mallet
Tadley Acres in Shepton Mallet

Data released as part of the Freedom of Information Act has illuminated the scope of the housing crisis in the Mendip area, revealing that 2,249 households are on a waiting list for a council home.

This accounts for over 11% of the total 20,204 households in Mendip.

Managed by the East Housing Options Team, this list shows households enduring an average wait time of 418 days to secure a property.

Statistics from 2 August 2021 to 26 July 2023 show that households are waiting well over a year to find a home. Most alarmingly, these figures do not even include those still actively seeking housing. The demand mainly focuses on smaller dwellings, with 1,158 households waiting for a one-bedroom property and 642 looking for a two-bedroom home.

The data also reveals a significant uptick in new applicants to the waiting list. Between 2011 and 2017, fewer than 20 new applications were received annually, but this surged to a peak of 879 new applicants in the 2022/2023 period. Glastonbury seems to be particularly popular, with 363 households expressing a preference for the town.

Kate Henderson, Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation, commented on the broader implications of such housing shortages. She said, "Rural locations in Britain have seen a huge tourism boost in recent years. While this is good for local economies during holiday periods, it also presents significant challenges. Social housing waiting lists in rural areas grew by 31% between 2019 and 2022, compared with a 3% increase in urban areas. This shortage of affordable housing is impacting people from all walks of life, including key workers such as teachers, carers and agricultural workers who are essential for rural communities to thrive. With an election on the horizon, the experience of so many rural communities is a stark example of what happens when the housing market doesn't meet local needs. For this reason, we need secure, sustained investment in delivering a steady supply of social housing."

An additional 596 households have expressed interest in low-cost home ownership as an alternative pathway to secure housing. This likely stems from the limited availability and heightened competition for social housing in the area.

The social housing application process itself is complex and often time-consuming, requiring applicants to meet multiple criteria, including urgency of need and a local connection, such as family or employment in the area.

As more than 2,000 households languish on the waiting list, some for over a year, the need for a robust community discussion and council action plan to address Mendip's escalating housing crisis has never been more urgent.

     

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