Urgent action to tackle Devon’s housing crisis has been agreed by county councillors.
There was cross-party support for a range of measures to try to deal with the growing issue
It comes as new figures show house price rises in some parts of Devon are among the highest in the country.
At the same time the lack of affordable rental properties means key workers in care, health and education can’t fill job vacancies because they can’t find anywhere to live.
And more and more long-term rental properties are being converted to short-term holiday lets or sold off to take advantage of rising prices.
County councillors backed the creation of a new strategic housing task force in partnership with Devon’s district, town and parish councils in Team Devon and other key partners such as Homes England.
The county council will also look at whether it can offer accommodation to key workers to attract them to work for the authority and lobby MPs to press for tax loopholes on holiday rental homes to be tightened up.
Devon County Council leader John Hart said:
“This problem is so serious that we need a united, cross-party approach. This is where Team Devon comes into its own.
“We are all talking the same language and should lobby together. We are speaking on behalf of 800,000 people.
“Together we have a more powerful voice in lobbying the Government for the changes that need to be made.”
Liberal Democrat leader Alan Connett said:
“We all agree there is an issue and something needs to be done. Every one of us should be able to live in a safe, warm, secure home.”
Labour leader Rob Hannaford said:
“We must come together and work together to deal with this crisis. We can do more, we should do more and we must do more.”
The latest figures from the Office of National Statistics show house price inflation in Devon is running at 13.4 per cent – more than Cornwall or Somerset – and some parts of the county are even higher. North Devon at 22.4 per cent is in the top 10 districts in the country for house price growth with Torridge on 19.8 per cent, the South Hams at 15.5 per cent and East Devon on 14.8 per cent.
Figures produced for Team Devon show Air B&B offering 253 rentals in Exmouth compared with just four residential lettings. In Ilfracombe the figures are 326 compared to four.
Mr Hart said some necessary actions would need Government support but there was a lot councils could do themselves. Devon is to consider the potential to convert some offices or other properties into housing for key workers and offering grants towards deposits for house purchase.