Housing decision is huge blow for rural communities

PRESS RELEASE
For immediate release

2 December 2014

A government decision which means developers will no longer have to provide affordable homes on many smaller sites is a huge blow for rural communities.

Abandoning the requirement for developers to include affordable housing on smaller development sites [1] is ill-thought through, said the Rural Services Network [2].

Rural Services Network housing spokesman Andy Dean said: “This decision is a huge blow for rural communities. It is very, very disappointing news.

“Affordable housing is key to retaining young people in rural communities and in smaller rural settlements, this is how most new affordable homes are delivered.

The Rural Services Network is calling on the government to reverse the decision which exempts developers on sites with 10 or fewer homes from requirements to include affordable housing - at least, in relation to all rural settlements.

In some rural areas, the exemption will apply to sites with five or fewer homes.

But Mr Dean said: “This is a small concession and the policy could still decimate the provision of rural affordable housing because most sites in villages are small.

“These planning requirements are the mechanism which delivers most of the new affordable homes in our villages. Without them, families will be priced out of the countryside.

“There is scant evidence that such planning agreements undermine development site viability and, where local authorities conclude it would, they can already reduce the burden.”

"We have to find a better way to balance the government's desire to encourage small scale builders with the over-riding need to provide affordable homes in rural communities.”

ENDS

 
Media contact:

Andy Dean
Rural Services Network
E: andy.dean@sparse.gov.uk
M: 07872 373191

 
NOTES TO EDITORS:

1. Communities minister Brandon Lewis announced the removal of Section 106 agreements from sites of fewer than 10 homes in a written ministerial statement to parliament. The written statement can be read here https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/small-scale-developers

2. The Rural Services Network is a group of more than 200 organisations working together to improve the delivery of rural services across England. The two operating arms of the network are the Sparsity Partnership for Authorities Delivering Rural Services (SPARSE) and the Rural Services Partnership. Further information and a full list of members are available at http://www.rsnonline.org.uk

3. The Rural Services Network seeks to establish best practice across the spectrum of rural service provision. The network has representation across the complete range of rural services, including local authorities, public bodies, businesses, charities and voluntary groups. We are devoted to safeguarding and improving services in rural communities across England. We are the only national network specifically focusing on this vital aspect of rural life.

4. The Rural Services Network exists to ensure services delivered to the communities of predominantly and significantly rural England are as strong and as effective as possible. The term 'predominately rural' refers to counties and Local Authority districts with at least 50 percent of their population living in rural settlements (ie. rural towns, villages, hamlets and dispersed dwellings) as identified in the Office for National Statistics' rural definition, and including larger market towns as identified in the Defra classification of Local Authority districts. The term 'significant rural' refers to those Local Authorities who are between 25% and 50% rural under the same classification. The rural definition and classification were devised by the Rural Evidence Research Centre (RERC) at Birkbeck College. Further information on these can be found on the RERC website at www.rerc.ac.uk.

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