A VITAL project highlighting the critical shortage of affordable homes for Tavistock people has been given a research boost.

A detailed survey of the experiences of real people looking for homes in the area and their suggested solutions is the second part of the housing need evaluation.

Statistical findings have already been compiled and will be added to the latest research into real-life choices forced on home searchers to give a picture of the situation.

The two aspects will be combined to help compile the housing section of the Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP) being drawn up by Tavistock Town Council under the leadership of Cllr Ursula Mann and a steering group of residents and councilors.

The NDP will outline a vision of what residents would like their town to look like with their priorities and act as a blueprint for future developments, also including heritage, leisure, young people, sustainability and travel, green spaces and the environment. The NDP cannot stop unwelcome development, but will guide planners and councillors in shaping what might be built.

The research is being funded and carried out by Devon Communities Together (DCT) — an independent charity engaged in a wide range of projects and services that support our vision of dynamic Devon communities shaping their own futures.

Cllr Mann said: “We’ve gathered the quantitative evidence which proved what we already knew, that there’s a dire shortage of affordable and suitable homes in the area. This applies to both renters and buyers. We have gathered our own stories of people who are struggling to find a home and these will be offered as evidence to Devon Communities Together. DCT want to hear from people in various scenarios and they will be asked if they are happy to be interviewed for their situations to be added to the evidence.

“People struggling to find a home are not just those eligible for social housing, but also people with jobs, but unable to afford the deposits for renting, for instance, and have to put up with second-best accommodatation. Even people with two jobs earning a reasonable wage are competing with those who have cash deposits when buying, so it’s a mixed picture. The estate agents also report the shortages and of several couples all looking at the few properties they can realistically afford.”

The sparsity of suitable and affordable homes is graphically illustrated by the increasing numbers of people taking to social media pleading for homes to rent.

Cllr Mann said: “It shows the state of the housing market, to rent and to buy, when people are having to sell themselves to find somewhere to live, rather than the homes being advertised to find tenants or buyers.”

The NDP steering group is also hoping to ‘raise the bar’ in terms of housing and linked sustainable environments, so developers follow more closely what people actually want, especially with ‘exception’ houses which are outside the planned development.”

The final NDP will be subject to more scrutiny and public vote, before being formally adopted.

Anyone wanting to tell their stories to Devon Communities Together researchers can call 01392248919 or email: [email protected]