A parish ‘Snapshot’

2.8    From the 2011 Office of National Statistics data we find that the population of the Parish has been relatively static over the last two decades and now stands at around 3502 having risen from 3494 in 2002. There are 1562 households of which 1100 are occupied by people over the age of 65, 430 are single occupiers, 311 are married couples without dependent children and 592 are married couples with de-pendent children. Of the 1562 households, 1216 are owned (733 outright, 483 mortgaged), 244 are socially rented and 319 privately rented.  60% of the houses in the parish are detached, 20% semi-detached, 15% terraced and 5% flats or mobile homes.

2.9    The Parish population between the ages of 16 and 74 stands at 2643. Of these, 386 are in part time employment, 850 in full time employment, 399 are self employed, 48 unemployed and 602 are retired. 110 children between the ages 4 and 16 are in full time education.

2.10    The general health of those living in the Parish is better than the national aver-age with the health of 85% of residents reported as being ‘Very Good’ or ‘Good’.

So the ‘snapshot’ shows a ‘retirement - biased’ population in relatively good health largely living in detached properties which they own.  Evidence promulgated by WDBC’s own population trend analysis (July 2015), makes the following case for development thinking:

‘Building affordable housing is vital to the survival of rural communities and services. It makes it easier for local people to continue to live in the same area as their friends and family. It also helps preserve the economy of rural communities by providing homes for young, working people who sustain local businesses and services.’

2.11    One of the key issues surrounding the lack of affordable housing is that it's leading to the disappearance of younger, working people living in rural areas.  New statistics by the National Housing Federation (NHF) show that by 2021, 41.8% of households in West Devon are predicted to be headed by people aged over 65. West Devon is also one of the top 20 areas in England predicted to see the biggest per-centage point jump (4.5%) in the proportion of households headed by people aged over 75 within the next ten years.This is raising concerns that younger people are no longer able to find affordable homes in the area, being priced out by high rents and unaffordable homes.

An early finding

2.12    This analysis, supported by the NP’s questionnaire points to two accommoda-tion related issues which the Plan hopes to address; the need for housing which sustains the community and in particular that which provides for young families who wish to grow up and contribute to the community in which they live and secondly, for the more senior members of the community who, again. wish to remain but may not be able to find accommodation suited to their changing circumstances.