An empty homes officer has been recruited by a rural council struggling to tackle a critical shortage of affordable homes in the countryside.
Wychavon District Council is offering to pay for repairs on empty homes if the owner will rent it to those who cannot afford to buy in the area.
The strategy is just one of a number adopted by the Worcestershire local authority to tackle the growing need for cheaper housing in desirable areas.
A second council officer has been employed to find plots of land on the edge of villages which can be used to create new affordable homes.
The local authority has more than 2,000 people on its council house list, although many have been told they have no realistic prospect of being re-housed.
According to a recent West Midlands Regional Lifestyle survey, nearly 65 per cent of all respondents aspired to live in accessible rural areas more than anywhere else - and Wychavon sits in the UK's top 20 desirable areas.
Jack Hegarty, managing director of Wychavon District Council, said with the continuing growth in people aspiring to live the countryside, there was a marked increase in the number of young people leaving rural areas as property became unaffordable.
He said: "We have got a very large demand for affordable housing and property prices are very high in Wychavon - one of the highest in the region. We have got more band E-H properties than the national average.
"This part of the region is a low unemployment but lowwage area. At three-and-a-half times their income, 70 per cent of young people would not be able to get on to the property ladder. Even if young people borrowed four-and-a-quarter times their income, 59 per cent would not be able to get on the property ladder."
The council has created 1,300 affordable homes but Mr Hegarty said that wasn't enough to solve the problem.
"We cannot solve the need through new build. The housing need conflicts with planning requirements because the regional spatial strategy looks at regeneration of Birmingham and Coventry and other urban areas with limited number of housing in the shire counties.
"That means less housing and less of an opportunity for people to enter the housing market." A number of affordable homes have been created on the edge of Wickhamford and Offenham and the council was looking at more villages where it could increase development.
"We are not looking at big numbers and the big issue for me is nimbyism and trying to convince people we are not looking at building big estates, just a few homes," Mr Hegarty added.
He said Worcestershire was facing several big environmental challenges over the next decade which could have a major impact upon the region.
One major threat was the expansion of Worcester into Wychavon and Malvern Hills due to constraints within the city's boundary. New communities could be created on the outskirts of the city, impacting on the rural areas.
"It can't expand within its boundary so it will increase to other districts so we need to plan for that," Mr Hegarty said.