COLLEAGUES from South Lakeland's largest social landlord have been getting on their bikes to celebrate Rural Housing Week (July 3 to 7).

Keen cyclist Gordon Sisson, sheltered housing manager at South Lakes Housing, was yesterday (Wednesday) planning to pedal 50 miles to showcase the far-flung geographical locations where it provides affordable housing.

Meanwhile, back in the office at Kendal's Bridge Mills, workmates took turns pedalling on a static bike to try to beat Gordon's time, while raising money for charity.


The head-to-head challenge was organised by Lyn Richardson, community engagement officer for South Lakes Housing (SLH), which manages more than 3,000 local homes.

Rural Housing Week is a nationwide event run by the National Housing Federation to highlight and tackle housing issues in the countryside.

This week sees the official launch of its Rural Housing 5 Star Plan, which aims to increase housebuilding in rural areas by up to six per cent a year.

South Lakes Housing is backing the plan, and has itself already pledged to build more than 250 new homes in the next few years.

Cath Purdy, chief executive of SLH, said: "It is extremely challenging and so much harder to develop in rural areas as land availability is in short supply and construction costs tend to be much higher.

"But we recognise that we must do our bit to help ease the housing crisis in our villages and improve the sustainability of rural communities in the South Lakes.

"That is why I am absolutely delighted to announce that our board have signed up to the Rural Housing 5 Star Plan which means that we will work with rural communities to increase the level of housing supply every year for the next five years."

House prices in South Lakeland are almost ten times higher than average wages, says SLH. Young people continue to 'migrate' from rural areas because of factors like the Right to Buy policy depleting housing stock, and second homes making up around 50 per cent of some villages' homes.

SLH says that in Old Hutton, near Kendal, for example, there is now just one affordable home left, where there used to be 16.

For more on Rural Housing Week, visit