Rural areas must be included in government's drive for housebuilding and economic growth, says CLA

New Chancellor Rachel Reeves announces return of housing targets, and a review of green belt boundaries
Labour will write to planning authorities to ensure they're prioritising brownfield and greybelt land to meet housing targets.

The new government has set out its plans to reintroduce housebuilding targets, as well as a review of the green belt, with the CLA welcoming the focus on growth but urging Labour not to overlook rural needs.

In a speech this morning, Chancellor Rachel Reeves announced new housing targets for England, and the loosening of planning rules to encourage more new homes.

Labour will reform the national planning policy framework in order to deliver infrastructure, she said, as well as review greenbelt boundaries to prioritise brownfield and "grey belt" land and support local authorities with 300 additional planning officers.

Country Land and Business Association (CLA) Deputy President Gavin Lane said:

“The new government is right to view unlocking economic growth as its core mission, and if there are no housebuilding targets it will struggle to deliver 1.5 million homes over the next Parliament. Large strategic sites are important to this delivery, but rural communities cannot be left behind, and need a small number of homes to be built in a large number of villages to keep them sustainable.

“Over the past decade, demand for housing in rural areas has grown faster than urban areas, outstripping supply and making the countryside unaffordable for many who live and work here, with rural housing policy left behind.

“Green belt designation needs to be reformed to ensure that more homes are built in the right places. Using grey belt and brownfield sites is important, but should not be at the expense of the sustainability of smaller existing settlements and communities within the green belt."

'Right skills and training'

The focus on bolstering local planning departments is good news, with the CLA calling for greater resources in our 'missions' document on planning earlier this year.

Gavin said: “The CLA welcomes the proposed recruitment drive for extra planning officers, to help speed up the rate under-resourced local authorities grant permission for developments.

"It is important that officers have the right skills and training to understand rural issues, as a recent CLA survey identified that 94% of rural businesses feel there is a lack of knowledge within the planning system.

“Applications submitted for diversification, rural workers' dwellings and rural exception sites (RES) are often misunderstood in terms of justification and need, and we have long called for this to be addressed to help unlock investment and growth.”

Rural Powerhouse: Mission 2 - Affordable Homes

Read the CLA's views on how government can support thriving rural communities through housing and the planning system.