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Saturday, 20 December 2014

Affordable housing row

A VICAR has waded into a housing debate which residents claim has divided a village.

Reverend Malcolm Cowan has claimed up to 100 new homes could safeguard the future of Kirkby’s school and businesses.

South Lakeland District Council’s Strategic Land Allocation Assessment suggested building up to 90 new homes in Kirkby which councillors and residents said would change the village for the worse.

In response, parish councillors suggested houses should be built on land near the Burlington Inn, behind Burlington C of E School and Moorland Stores.

After a series of public meetings a number of residents formed Kirkby Housing Action Group who favour small developments of around 25 houses in total.

Writing in the Kirkby Caller, Rev Cowan said: “Who on the minimum wage could afford to buy in Kirkby or Grizebeck?

“High house prices and shortage of affordable rentable homes mean that some people are unable to stay in the village or others move into the village.

“Renting can be good for some, but for others it gives a lack of stability and a lack of trust in the future.”

Rev Cowan argued the houses would help not only businesses but community halls safeguard their futures.

He said: “Would it not be good to see the school full to overflowing with children?

“Would it not be good to see the local shops and pubs doing well?

“Would it not be good to see the village hall in Beckside and the new Grizebeck Community Hall booked to the full?

“Would it not be good to enable others to be able to experience living and growing up in rural England?

“I see in villages in other parts of the country rows of beautiful two bedroom cottages being built with gardens – looking like part of the old order, but brand new at affordable prices – why can't it be done here?

“Hopefully people will have the opportunity to come and live here or stay here and be part of the living community.”

Ken Wilkinson, secretary of the Kirkby Housing Action Group, said: “They are personal views and thoughts that have been aired through the parish magazine.

“Had he felt strongly enough to say something about it he should have come to the public meetings, he was fully aware of the feelings going round the village at the time.

“Our survey indicated a need for a small number of houses, up to 25, he is just pulling the figures out of the air.

“I have spoken to a couple of people who weren't very happy about it.”

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