The Crucial Role of Rural Exception Sites: A Path to Affordable Housing

Recent research conducted by the University of College London (UCL), commissioned by the Rural Housing Network, sheds light on the critical factors affecting the successful delivery of affordable housing through Rural Exception Sites in rural England. These sites are key to providing local residents with affordable homes while maintaining community character, yet their full potential remains largely untapped.

The study, encompassing a nationwide survey and detailed case studies across six local authorities, identifies both the barriers and best practices in affordable rural home delivery. It highlights significant challenges such as budget constraints, staffing issues in planning departments, and policy uncertainty that hinder the process. Yet, it also points to success factors like strong community engagement, the presence of Rural Housing Enablers, political support, and effective partnerships.

Despite the hurdles, the research optimistically outlines steps for local authorities, policymakers, and housing providers to boost the supply of affordable rural homes. The call to action includes fostering political will, enhancing community collaboration, adopting adaptable policies, and ensuring local planning authorities are well-equipped.

For a comprehensive understanding of the nuanced factors influencing affordable rural housing delivery and the proposed strategies for improvement, the executive summary of the UCL research provides an invaluable resource. It not only diagnoses the issues but also offers a roadmap towards leveraging Rural Exception Sites more effectively, presenting an opportunity to address England's rural housing crisis sustainably.

Refer to the full report of the UCL research on the effective delivery of Rural Exception Sites in England for further details and in-depth insights . You can also access the executive summary here.

Kerry Booth, Chief Executive, Rural Services Network

"In the heart of our rural communities, the absence of affordable housing is not only a crisis; it's a barrier to sustainability and growth. We recognise that every family living in rural areas deserves a home that is both affordable and conducive to a quality life. Our commitment is unwavering towards advocating for policies and initiatives that support the development of affordable housing in rural areas. By fostering partnerships and pushing for innovative solutions, we aim to ensure that rural areas remain vibrant and inclusive for generations to come."


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