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New rules will worsen the rural housing crisis

A letter, co-signed by the Rural Services Network, the Rural Housing Alliance, Plunkett Foundation and Acre has been featured in the Telegraph on 29th August 2020, highlighting the rural housing crisis

The letter states:

The Government’s proposed changes to planning rules mean that over two thirds of rural communities in England are unlikely to benefit in future from new affordable houses in their area. There is already an acute shortage of affordable homes in rural areas.  Last year just 5,558 new affordable homes were built in smaller rural communities – equivalent to less than one affordable home in each village.

The Government plans to quadruple the size of developments for which there is a requirement to provide affordable homes from developments of 10 or more properties to 40-50 dwellings.  Some rural communities will be exempt from this change, but 70 per cent won’t, making it almost impossible for them to provide affordable homes. Equally harmful is the introduction of first-homes exception sites.  This will cause confusion, inflate land values and destroy the emphasis on local engagement.  Gone will be rural exception sites that provide affordable homes tailored to specific local needs and design requirements. 

We are calling on the Government to exempt all rural communities with a population of 3,000 or fewer from the new rules, with local councils able to set their own thresholds for affordable housing in these settlements.  This would make it possible for rural places to get the affordable housing they need: homes for the employees and owners of local businesses, providers of local services and the volunteers who provide the social support for more vulnerable residents. 

These revisions are essential if the Government wishes to deliver its levelling-up agenda in rural areas, and provide the homes that people need at prices they can afford.

The letter was signed by:

Richard Quallington, Executive Director, Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE)
Graham Biggs, CX, Rural Services Network
Ursula Bennion, Chair Rural Housing Alliance
Margaret Clark, Chair, Plunkett Foundation and Rural England Stakeholder Group


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