A new report today which highlights the need for more homes
to help families in rural areas has been welcomed by Housing
Minister, Yvette Cooper and Secretary of State for Environment,
Food and Rural Affairs David Miliband.
The Affordable Rural Housing Commission, set up by the
Government to look at ways to help families in rural areas find
affordable homes, has published its findings.
The Commission's report argues that providing affordable housing
is essential to sustaining rural communities, and sets out a
series of detailed recommendations which Government will be considering
over the coming months. As a starting point the Government will
take rapid action to promote more affordable homes and section
106 agreements in rural areas.
Welcoming the report, Housing Minister, Yvette Cooper, said:
"In rural areas, as with the rest of the country, an ageing
and growing population is driving up housing demand and creating
pressures for first time buyers and for social housing. The report
makes clear that we need more homes to help families in rural
areas and to sustain local communities - that includes more social
housing, more shared ownership housing and more market housing
as well. "
Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
David Miliband said:
"Rural communities face the same pressures caused by the
increased demand for housing as urban areas. But it is important
to recognise the additional demands they face including lower
rural wages and the need to protect the environment. The Commission's
report makes an important contribution to meeting these challenges
and we will be considering their recommendations over the coming
The Government agrees with the Commission that more social housing
is needed in rural areas and is already increasing the level
of social housing across the country. Furthermore, Government
has made social housing a priority for the Spending Review next
The Commission also argues that a greater share of social housing
is needed in rural areas. At the moment 23% of the population
live in rural districts and 21% of social housing is built in
rural districts. However the majority of social housing within
those districts is built in larger towns rather than villages.
The Government will look carefully at the Commission's recommendation
about the location of new social housing as part of the Spending
Review considerations, alongside the need to address homelessness
and temporary accommodation.
The Government also agrees with the Commission that there is
a need for more shared ownership homes in rural areas and will
make this a priority.
The Government intends to strongly promote more shared equity
schemes in rural areas and will be publishing new planning guidance
for local authorities to ensure that they use their section 106
powers more effectively. If all rural authorities achieved the
same high performance levels in this area, they would be able
to deliver 2,400 additional affordable homes per year in rural
The Government also welcomes the Commission's endorsement of
the new approach to planning for housing. They have argued that
development should not be restricted to towns and cities and
that there should be more flexibility about land for development
in rural areas, where it supports sustainable communities. As
a result of their concerns the Government has introduced more
flexibility into the draft planning guidance (PPS3).
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