The challenge of achieving a balance
Tourism booming, farmers harvesting, fewer people in the dole queue, and some reasonable weather too. Anyone could be forgiven for thinking that things are finally on the up.
Even the more cautious in business are beginning to see movement in the market and are starting to consider investment and risk with more reason. Growth, it finally seems, is a real possibility. Confidence will be the key to developing any sort of momentum and so will infrastructure.
That is why today's news that the Government has hailed the West Country as being at the heart of a house building revival is such good news. According to latest statistics developers began work on 4,780 new homes in Devon and Cornwall in the last year, 720 more than the previous 12 months, bringing the total to the highest level since the economic crisis began.
A Department for Communities and Local Government report stated there were "particularly strong areas of new build starts along the M5 corridor from Devon up to Worcestershire".
Despite the optimistic feel of this news, the amount of houses being built is still less than half the number of new houses needed each year to tackle the "chronic shortage of homes". It is this shortage that is stifling rural communities, draining them of their young.
Many young families in the West Country have been priced out of rural villages with some communities, already bearing a larger than average number of old people, becoming virtual dormitories for pensioners. That is not a good thing – despite the legitimate concerns of established residents who view new development with horror.
The most vibrant communities are those with a good mix of people all ages. The countryside needs young people. There are rural jobs that need the young and the fit. There are rural schools that need families with young children. Rural services, from pubs and village shops to community centres, churches and sports teams that all need young blood to keep going.
More new homes, specifically aimed at local families, built in the right locations, in the right style and at the right density, are needed.
Today's figures suggest this may finally be starting to happen and, as figures released earlier this summer showed a near 10 per cent drop in the number of 30-44 year-olds in the rural South West in the past decade, the need is pressing.
The challenge will be to ensure the balance between growth and protecting landscape and heritage is maintained.