LANDOWNERS in Herefordshire are being urged to help tackle a shortage of affordable homes in the county.

The call has come from the West Mercia Housing Group, which claims it has money to spend but is being stifled by a shortage of building land.

Nearly 7,000 people are on the housing list in the county and it is one of the least affordable places to live in the UK because of the gulf between the cost of property and average earnings.

Latest statistics show that the average annual income in Herefordshire is £19,208, while the average house costs £190,558.

West Mercia Housing Group wants to embark on a number of new developments across the area, focusing on creating homes for people on the waiting list - but is struggling to find available land.

It has issued a plea to landowners to come forward to sell surplus land, even if it is in a place where they have been unable to get planning permission in the past.

"There is a real problem with finding land available for development in Herefordshire but there is a huge need for more affordable housing in the county," said Paul High, development director at West Mercia Housing Group, which manages 5,300 properties across the region.

"We are looking for opportunities to develop new homes in Hereford, the market towns and more rural areas, but we are struggling to find available land.

"Our intention is to create sustainable communities, integrated with improved local services and in keeping with the surroundings they grew up in rather than being forced to move elsewhere."