The housing crisis pushing Cornwall's young and talented people out

Aerial view of Truro
An aerial view of Truro, Cornwall's city Credit: ITV

Olly Monk has addressed the county's "dire" housing needs in an interview with ITV, saying that he feels exasperated by the scary housing situation so many are currently in.

Hundreds are in temporary accommodation and tens of thousands are on the waiting list for a home in Cornwall.

Cllr Monk, who is responsibly for planning and housing and has been in the position since May last year, said he feels "desperately sad" hearing the accounts from people in Cornwall who are homeless, living in a single B&B room, in caravans, sofa-surfing and with no secure place to call home.

And the impact of that will have consequences on the next generation of residents looking to stay in the county they have called home throughout their childhood.

He says the council is doing all it can to try to ease up Cornwall's housing issues which have come to a head.

That, he says, is due to a number of factors.

"Over the last few years [there] has been a catalyst to really exacerbate the pre-existing problem that's been there for a good few years really.

"We've had the pressure of the private rental sector who face increased regulation - energy efficiency, more licensing, less tax incentives and then all of a sudden the pandemic comes along and property [pricec] rises 30% in value, or you can flip it into the more lucrative holiday let market - you can see why a lot of landlords have chosen not to be in the game anymore and either sell up or get out of the private sector.

"Then you've got the added problem that we've not been building as many houses throughout the pandemic, especially the right type of houses that local people can afford to buy or rent.

"Thirdly we've had the exacerbation problem of continued second home owners and people moving out of the urban centres starting to move to Cornwall and snapping up properties which they can work quite adequately from.

"So all that has placed a real pressure on our existing housing market which we are determined to tackle and we will tackle it one stage at a time."

Emergency accommodation use is the first port of call for the council to house someone who is homeless. This has seen families housed in B&Bs and hotels for what should be around six weeks, but some have had to stay far longer in these situations as there's a severe lack of temporary housing available to move on to.

When ITV News asked if housing people in hotel rooms or cabins was the solution, Cllr Monk said: "I think we have to be pragmatic with the problem we've got, we've got 1,500 people currently who need accommodating and we have a statutory duty of care to accommodate.

"Clearly using hotels and B&Bs isn't ideal, it's very far from ideal, so what we need to do and what this administration has been trying to do is increase the amount of modular accommodation or accommodation that the council owns.

"The council need to own this provision ourselves - it's much better than using temporary or emergency accommodation like B&Bs or hotel chains. The more we can own of this accommodation, the more people can find settled accommodation in that transition period whilst we build out more social housing.

"The added benefit is that in most cases people will be closer to where they actually want to end up living."

He added: "It's really challenging, it's frustrating, I can see ways of solving it.

"We need 10,000 houses right now which sounds tons, but if there's 200 parishes in Cornwall that's only 50 in each one."