Black spider letters: affordable housing

The letters were exchanged in 2007 when Cooper, now candidate for the Labour leadership, was the minister for housing and planning.

In the correspondence Prince Charles said: “I have seen from my visits around the country the real problems finding and affordable home cause for those on low incomes in the countryside – many of whom are carrying out essential jobs, such as farm workers, teachers, shopkeepers and health workers and on whom the future viability of rural life depends.”

The Prince was writing to Cooper to raise his concerns about affordable housing in rural communities and to offer his congratulations on the recently published Eco Towns Prospectus.

The then minister, Yvette Cooper, replied to say that she was “delighted to hear of his support” for the department’s work on eco-towns and was very pleased that the Prince’s Foundation for the built environment were working closely with the department in this area.

The Prince’s letter added that he believed “encouraging landowners and other businesses to identify and bring forward small plots of land for development and to examine their own property portfolio” was critical to bring back empty or underused properties to use for affordable housing.

Last month Halifax called on the government to do more with empty housing, citing research that getting disused property back on the market was the top housing priority for young people in Britain today.

In its latest Generation Rent report Halifax surveyed 40,000 20-45 year olds and 4,000 parents with children aged between 20-45 years old.

It found that while the majority backed Conservative housing policy overall, the most popular policy promised in the run up to the general election earlier this month was a Liberal Democrat policy to tackle empty housing stock.

Overwhelmingly young people want the government to focus on increasing the supply of housing – whether through building new housing stock or allowing local communities to refurbish empty homes and get them back on the market or making them available for rent.