Victorian terraced houses, typical in North Devon - Credit: NDC

COLUMN: Tackling North Devon's housing problem - Selaine Saxby

Selaine Saxby

The Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill is making its way through Parliament, and I took the opportunity to speak in the debate to outline how access to housing in North Devon and the whole of the southwest is vital.

We have so many jobs and opportunities here in North Devon, but the availability of housing is making it very difficult to recruit. We are also seeing people being moved from their communities and away from their current jobs when they are unable to find more affordable housing locally.

The Government is making changes to address the inbalance in short term and long term lets but there is a lot more to be done. With North Devon being such a desirable place to live, it will come as no surprise to anyone that house prices here have increased 19% in the year to March 2022. I welcome the fact that North Devon Council are finally looking at derelict properties, but we do need to build more affordable homes for local families and that means building more homes full stop.

I was delighted to be joined by Secretary of State, Michael Gove MP, in Devon. We discussed what levelling up should look like in rural and coastal communities. He agreed with me that we need to make sure people have the opportunities they deserve, without leaving their communities. He was very engaged on the issue of housing in North Devon and surrounding areas, and I keenly await more details and developments on his plans for housing.

I have also met with Levelling Up Minister, Neil O’Brien MP, from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities along with Tiverton and Honiton’s Conservative candidate, Helen Hurford to discuss our vision for levelling up rural and coastal communities. As the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill is going through the House, I am working to make sure that it does not just focus large urban conurbations. For real change to happen we need to have a focus on the distinct issues that face our towns and villages and acknowledge that they may need different solutions to our cities.

Levelling up touches on all areas of our lives and in North Devon we need the skills and opportunities as there are good skilled jobs here. I was reminded of this while visiting one of our great businesses, SEA (Systems Engineering & Assessment Ltd) in Barnstaple who are expanding and going from strength to strength.

They design and manufacture sonar arrays, torpedo launcher systems and decoy launchers for the defence sector. Another high end engineering firm in North Devon recruiting apprentices and providing well paid jobs across the site. If you are looking for a new career or change of career or even at school an looking at options do please consider the vast number of STEM jobs in North Devon.

We also recently celebrated a fantastic contract win for Aramis Rugby in South Molton with a reception in Westminster. We were joined by Rugby greats Will Greenwood, Sir Bill Beaumont and Claude Atcher to celebrate Aramis’ amazing success in becoming an Official Supporter of the Rugby World Cup in France in 2023.

As with many of Aramis’s products much of the equipment used by the world’s elite players will be manufactured here in North Devon which will again mean more jobs and opportunities.

Selaine Saxby
Selaine Saxby