Monday, 24 August 2015 07:18

Starter homes must be appropriate

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Starter homes must be appropriate

THE government must consider the wider implications of increasing the number of rural Starter Homes, says the Rural Services Network.

Proposals to increase the number of rural Starter Homes were included in the government's first ever Rural Productivity Plan for England.

RSN chief executive Graham Biggs MBE said: "Overall Starter Homes could play a useful role in rural areas, but government should reconsider where they will be appropriate."

The government has suggested that Starter Homes could be built on rural 'exception sites' - sites which are usually used to provide social housing rather than houses that can be sold on the open market.

But Mr Biggs said: "Starter homes should be built on allocated sites - not exception sites."

He added: "Exception sites are intended to be for housing that will remain affordable and for local needs, whereas Starter Homes can be sold on the open market after a few years."

"The need for affordable rented homes in rural communities is inescapable and must be a key part of implementing a productivity plan for rural communities," said Mr Biggs.

"Providing starter homes at 80% of market value could contribute to this need but they are highly likely to remain too expensive for most young people in rural areas, potentially defeating the stated purpose of the plan."

Whatever happens, the Rural Services Network believes that the previous success of rural exception sites as a key mechanism for delivering rural affordable homes must not be undermined.

Through the rural exception sites policy, landowners have been encouraged to release land, often for a modest sum, so homes can be built for local people.

Mr Biggs said: "Any new measures which undermine this delivery should be avoided, particularly where they enable homes to be sold at full market value after a few years.

"Local people and landowners need to be able to count on new homes being retained for people with a local connection and at an affordable price in perpetuity.

"If not, they will lose faith and not support further developments."

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