7 May 2014
The network issued the warning in response to a government consultation on a proposed 10-unit threshold for so-called Section 106 affordable housing contributions .
"From a rural perspective, this is a hugely significant issue," said the network's response .
The proposal means developers would not be obliged to provide affordable housing on smaller sites of 10 houses or under.
Network housing spokesman Andy Dean said: "Rural affordable homes are difficult to deliver for a variety of reasons and it is critical that existing routes to deliver such homes are not cut off."
He added: "Implementing the 10-unit threshold would significantly impact on the delivery of much needed affordable homes in the countryside."
A large proportion of the delivery of affordable housing in communities of less than 3,000 population was through Section 106 sites that were 10 units or less, Mr Dean added.
In the 2008/11 Affordable Housing Programme, for example, 75% of rural homes were built using this method. Removing it would have a potentially massive impact on delivery.
At the same time, Section 106 had proved to be an increasingly important mechanism to ensure that affordable homes were built even though public resources had reduced.
"Introducing the threshold threatens to drastically reduce the provision of affordable homes in rural areas," concluded Mr Dean.
Rural Services Network
M: 07872 373191
1. 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
2. The proposal is contained in the government's Planning Performance and Planning Contributions consultation document at https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/planning-performance-and-planning-contributions
3. The full response of the Rural Services Network to the government consultation can be seen at: http://rsnonline.org.uk/images/files/RSNresponsePlanningPerfConsultation-May2014.pdf
4. 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.
5. 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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