“Housing and Planning Bill must acknowledge specific rural housing challenges” says CLA

01 March 2016

Government must recognise the specific challenges of the rural housing crisis. This was the message today from the CLA as the Housing and Planning Bill continues its passage through the House of Lords.

The CLA represents landowners, farmers and rural businesses. CLA President Ross Murray said: “Rural areas need a range of new homes, including affordable homes, if we are to ensure our rural communities are sustained.

“But above all Ministers must recognise that, due to the nature of rural areas, national policies can and do affect rural communities in different ways to urban areas.

“In order to retain and deliver homes that are desperately needed in rural areas, Government must acknowledge these differences and address rural-specific needs within the Bill itself instead of assuming they will slip in to the accompanying guidance or regulation.”

Peers will today continue to debate amendments to the Bill, including those supported by the CLA and a consortium of rural housing experts on the following issues:

On Starter Homes:

“Across the country landowners are willing to make potential housing land available at considerable undervalue in order to provide homes for local people in perpetuity. However the proposal to allow Starter Homes on rural exception sites offers little incentive for this to continue, as properties built on these sites can then be sold on the open market after only five years.1

“We support Government’s ambition to boost homeownership, but the Starter Homes initiative actually puts delivery of the homes needed in rural areas at risk. Rural areas need a variety of housing types, tenures and sizes which the Starter Homes policy creates a barrier to achieving.”

On extending the Right to Buy to Housing Association tenants:

“Rural areas already have fewer affordable properties than urban areas thanks in part to previous incarnations of the Right to Buy, with the average rural house price now over £40,000 more expensive than its urban counterpart.

“The shortage of affordable properties is particularly acute in small settlements, so exceptions must be made to ensure that communities with a population of 3,000 or fewer are exempt from the extension of the policy. Settlements 10,000 or fewer should also have the option to seek approval to exempt themselves. 

“Similarly, Ministers are yet to indicate where properties replacing those sold under the Right to Buy will be built. Government must be clear that that any replacement property is built in the same area.”