Tuesday, 12 April 2016 04:51

Call to protect affordable rural homes

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Call to protect affordable rural homes

Peers and rural groups have joined forces to argue for measures that protect the affordability of rural housing.

The consortium includes the Rural Services Network, the Rural Housing Alliance, the Country Land and Business Association and the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).

It is arguing for a series of measures to be added to the Housing and Planning Bill to help protect the balance of tenures, types and the affordability of housing in rural communities.

The Bill will continue its passage of detailed scrutiny in the House of Lords this week, debating of a suite of amendments supported by the coalition of rural groups.

    See also: Starter homes 'must be appropriate'

Amendments include:

* Excluding Starter Homes from Rural Exception Sites to ensure housing on these sites remain affordable for the local community in perpetuity;
* Exempting rural areas from the levy on the forced sale of council homes which could lead to particularly damaging losses where council homes are particularly scarce, valuable, and hard to replace
* Ensuring that any grant paid for the Right to Buy in rural areas is used for a direct, like-for-like replacement of the properties in the same area.

CLA president Ross Murray said: "The challenge of delivering much needed housing in our rural areas is different to that in our towns and cities

"Starter homes may be the answer in many urban areas but forcing them on rural areas won't work.

He added: "The risk is they dissuade those bringing forward much needed land for affordable housing as all the benefit goes to the house buyer who may sell in only five years."

Rural communities needed a variety of housing types, tenures and sizes, said Mr Murray.

"Allowing Starter Homes to be built instead of rented accommodation will mean those who cannot afford to buy a property will have no accommodation options open to them."

Similarly, said Mr Murray, ministers were yet to indicate where properties replacing those sold under the Right to Buy will be built.

"Government must be clear that that any replacement property is built like-for-like and in the same area to ensure the continued vibrancy of our rural communities.

"We support government's ambition to boost homeownership, but the legislation in its current form could put delivery of rural homes and the vibrancy of our countryside at risk."

CPRE chief executive Shaun Spiers said: "The proposals set out in the government's bill will not help the people in rural communities who need genuinely affordable homes."

Starter homes were beyond the means of most young rural people, and would do little to prevent families from being forced out of their communities because they could afford to stay there.

"Vibrant communities are essential to rural life, and to support these communities we must provide a mixture of housing types that also cater for those who cannot or do not want to buy their own home."

Hastoe Group chief executive Sue Chalkley said: "People in rural areas face particular difficulties in accessing an affordable home, with low local incomes, and high property values.

She added: "The growing affordability gap means young people and families are being priced out of their local rural communities."

Ms Chalkley said Hastoe strongly supported the drive to develop more new homes. But several of the government's proposals would exacerbate the shortage of affordable rural homes.

They includedunaffordable starter homes, the forced sale of council homes and the lack of a guarantee that homes sold through the extension of the Right to Buy would be replaced.

"We hope that the government recognises the need to protect badly needed affordable homes in rural communities and accepts the amendments put forward today by peers."

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  • Guest (Georgina Smith)

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    I agree wholeheartedly with your article. As a member of a steering group that has been producing a Neighbourhood Plan for the last 3 years, we have been stalled all along the way by the heavy handed approach of Historic England and the local planning department. If they had their way, there would be no new houses in our community at all. This Neighbourhood is dying through lack of suitable housing for young people and families, but they prefer to see the area fossilised.

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