DELIVERING decent homes for local people remains Eden District Council’s priority, it says.

The council's draft Eden Local Plan for 2014 to 2032 is going through a final round of consultation before it its likely adoption as planning policy later this year.

Council leader Kevin Beaty said: "High house prices and a low number of available properties have long been the bugbear for local communities. Unfortunately, we can’t solve this on our own overnight, but through policies such as the Eden Local Plan we can ensure the right type of market-led housing is built in areas where our communities need it most.

"Delivering quality new housing is just part of the answer, we also have to make sure our existing house stock in the district is fit for purpose. We offer a range of grants, loans, help with energy efficiency and can take enforcement action to ensure homes in Eden are of a decent standard for local people to occupy.”

Around 1,000 people in Eden remain registered on the choice-based lettings system for social housing. While house prices continue to outstrip local wages, this number remains at a constant level, says the council.

The district has 1,900 second/holiday homes and house prices in Eden are among the highest in Cumbria. The average household income in 2012 was £25,458 and the age house price £183,866, outstripping household income levels by around 7.2 per cent, making the housing market inaccessible for many families.

Many of the existing homes in the district are hard to heat because of their traditional construction, and this can leave many rural households who are without a mains gas connection in fuel poverty, says the council.

To address this issue directly, Eden District Council along with neighbouring authorities used government funding to create the Cumbria Central Heating Fund. In Eden, around 40 homes are feeling the benefit of being fitted with brand new central heating for the first time.