CLA Deputy President Ross Murray spoke about rural housing delivery at a Prince’s Foundation for Building Community event on 27 October 2015 about the development of the BIMBY (Beauty In My Back Yard) Toolkit:
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The CLA is very pleased to join the launch of the BIMBY housing toolkit.
Our locus is as long term stewards of the countryside in England and Wales, whether as landowners or land managers.
This is not a passive role but an active business involving risk and investment, and we take an inter-generational view.
Agriculture is at its heart, alongside protecting our heritage and the environment. We work and live within and alongside our communities.
I have personal responsibility for an arts and crafts village in South Wales built as a memorial by a grieving father for a son lost in the Great War.
There is a parallel between the work of the Prince’s Foundation for Building Community and many of our members who have an individual desire to leave a legacy as I have just described.
That is why the emphasis on quality design and community engagement offered by the toolkit is so important. It can only increase acceptability and ultimately help provide society’s housing needs.
The housing crisis needs to be recognised in a rural context. Our circumstances are different but no less severe. It is a fact that in 90 percent of rural areas the average cost of buying a house is eight times the average wage.
Housing is essential to support rural employment, sustain our communities and our local and often vulnerable economies.
The greatest challenge is the mindset of land use planning. Change is a constant. The local plan process is expensive, litigious and divisive. Pity the Minister who has to arbitrate.
It has been said we should use the toolkit to build beautiful places. I say we will need to build beautiful places in beautiful places. It is inevitable that society will require more housing in greenbelts, on the edges of towns and villages, in hamlets and on farms, and even in National Parks. That is all a given. It is how we do it which is the challenge.
The promoter of housing, whether the landowner or builder, must never be too proud to ask his or her community for their view and engage them in the process.
And communities must use the process of engagement to understand the needs of the promoter, the risks and challenges.
CLA welcomes the Beauty in My Backyard housing toolkit which in time could be seen as marriage guidance for the built heritage.