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'Great concern' over rural housing

The delivery of affordable homes in rural communities where they are needed is of great concern says the Rural Services Network.

The network was responding to a report by the Campaign to Protect Rural England, which says more than 70% of 425,000 houses now planned for Green Belt are unaffordable.

This is an increase of 54% on March 2016, and the biggest year-on-year increase in building proposed in the Green Belt for two decades.

The figures are contained in CPRE's annual Green Belt Under Siege report, which was published on Monday (3 July).

    See also: Network supports rural housing plan

Government funds are rewarding the development of Green Belt land – but without delivering the much-needed affordable homes those funds were designed to encourage, it says.

CPRE estimates suggest that the government's New Homes Bonus initiative will reward councils with £2.4 billion for the proposed 425,000 new homes.

The charity says argues that the government should help councils build again and help fund genuinely affordable homes, including on small rural sites.

CPRE campaign director Tom Fyans said: "It is important to look at what housing is currently being planned and where it is being delivered.

"Green Belt is being lost at an ever faster rate, yet the type of housing being built now or in the future will do very little to address the affordable housing crisis.

Publication of the CPRE report coincides with the start of Rural Housing Week (3-7 July), which aims to highlight rural housing issues.

Rural Services Network assistant director Andy Dean said: "All developments in the green belt should make a substantial contribution to affordable housing needs and have local support."

"Rural Exception Sites in green belt locations are important in helping meeting rural housing needs – but they should remain solely for affordable homes."

"Many local authorities, housing associations and local community organisations do a great job in delivering affordable homes in appropriate numbers to meet local need."

Mr Dean said the network was keen such work was extended across more rural communities where clear need exists and where the existing stock of affordable homes is often disappearing.

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