Affordable Homes at Risk under new Planning Consultation

The Rural Services Network, along with Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE), The Rural Housing Alliance, The Plunkett Foundation and Rural England Stakeholder Group, has written to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, the Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP, urging the Government to consider that without revision, proposed changes to the existing planning system risk drastically reducing the supply of affordable homes in rural communities

There are two key elements identified in the Planning Consultation which will seriously affect the supply of affordable homes in rural communities, firstly the ‘Requirements for affordable housing contributions on smaller rural development sites’

The letter states:

“The proposal to raise the threshold that triggers affordable housing contributions from 10 to 40-50 dwellings for a limited time period will drastically reduce the supply of rural affordable homes. This is because in many rural communities, residential developments tend to be smaller than 10 dwellings. The consultation document proposes an exemption to this rule in designated rural areas based on the S157 1985 Housing Act definition, however this measure will be largely ineffective because it will not apply to 70% of smaller rural communities.”

Secondly, ‘Supply of rural exception sites’

The letter states:

“First Homes Exception Sites will seriously damage the supply of rural exception sites in non-designated areas, and with it, the ability to meet a broad range of housing needs. Landowners will choose to sell their land for First Homes Exception Sites, which, because they will provide predominantly affordable housing for sale, are likely to command a higher land value than rural exception sites. They will also cause confusion and destroy the emphasis on community engagement. Gone will be the opportunity provided by rural exception sites to provide a mix of affordable homes tailored to the specific needs of the community, often including discounted market sale in perpetuity.”

The letter goes on to suggest two amendments to protect the delivery of affordable housing in rural areas:

Each of these concerns is a problem in itself, but together they will be catastrophic to the delivery of rural affordable housing. This can be avoided by two simple steps.

  1. Replace the definition of designated rural areas from those areas listed under S157 regulations to all parishes with a population of 3,000 or fewer. This would provide a definition that is transparent and readily understandable, easy to evidence and update, efficient and simple to apply, whilst providing consistent coverage across rural England
  2. Adopt the wording in the NPPG1 that was introduced in July 2019 that allows local planning authorities to set their own thresholds for affordable housing in their designated rural communities but as above not just those with S157 designation)
To read the full content of the letter click here


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