No North East areas in list of top places to live in the countryside

CLA says the list shows the need to invest in employment and services in the North East countryside

Douglas Chalmers, CLA North director of policy & public affairs
Douglas Chalmers, CLA North director of policy & public affairs

The absence of any areas in the North East in a list of the best rural places to live shows the need to bring more employment to the region’s countryside, a pressure group says.

The CLA in the North East is calling for increased investment in rural areas after the region failed to make the top 50 in annual Halifax Rural Areas Quality of Life Survey.

The list is calculated on factors such as health, employment, the environment, weather and crime rate, and names Rutland as the best rural place to live in Britain.

And although parts of Yorkshire and Scotland make it in to the top 50, the North West and North East fail to gain a single listing.

CLA North Director of Policy and Public Affairs Douglas Chalmers, said: “It seems astounding that the whole of the North East cannot even make it into the top 50 best rural places to live.

“On scenery alone, with national parks, the iconic coastline, hills, lakes, rolling farmland and beautiful villages, you would think the North East would figure prominently in any popularity survey.”

But with prosperity also featuring as a key judging criteria in the survey, Mr Chalmers said the results reinforce the crucial need for investment in rural areas.

He said: “People need services fit for modern life. On top of bus services, schools and shops, effective broadband is now almost essential for being joined in to society. For social reasons, shopping, paying taxes or running a business, a reliable and affordable broadband service is now seen as vital.

“As long as we continue to invest in making existing connections even faster, rather than ensuring everyone has the opportunity, we will have an urban-rural digital divide.

“This one step will keep or attract younger people and their families in rural areas, helping to unleash the huge economic potential there. Creating jobs, often with low environmental impact, means more local spending, safeguarded services and sustainable communities with people of all ages.”

Rutland tops the national table thanks to its population being in good health and a relatively good climate. Living there comes at a price, however, with the average house price around 6.7 times the annual pre-tax local income, compared with the national average of 6.2.

Chiltern has moved up six places in 2015 to second place, thanks to high average life expectancy of 82.2 years and a 97% report good health.

The top 50 rural places to live in Britain were again dominated by the South East, with 14 districts found in this region, followed by the East of England, which claims 10 of the top 50 spots.

The Halifax survey said that Northumberland was the rural area with the best quality of life in the North East, though it came only 76th in the survey.

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