Planning law changes dubbed ‘catastrophic’ for rural areas

Rural housing and planning authorities have cried out against government plans to scrap the requirement for developers to provide affordable housing on smaller plots. 

They have said proposed changes to planning policy would be ‘catastrophic’ for rural areas, and that the supply of affordable housing would ‘dry up’.

However, the Government has argued that the change would remove red tape and encourage more house building.

Recently the Government introduced a series of measures to incentivise house building, with self-build schemes being tested in places such as Leeds and tax subsidies made available on building supplies.

Currently, in order to acquire planning permission, local authorities in England can encourage developers to build a certain amount of affordable housing.  However, the Government’s proposal will remove this obligation on sites of fewer than 10 units – which would have serious consequences in rural villages, where property expansion is done on a smaller scale, proportionate to population size.

Nick Chase from Action for Communications in Rural England (ACRE), said: “This change would have a catastrophic effect on the numbers of affordable housing coming forward for local communities.

“It also flies in the face of allowing local communities to take responsibility for the numbers and types of houses that they want.”

The organisation is calling for villages with a population of less than 3,000 to be exempt.  They advocate that the rural property market is already failing to provide enough homes, with desirable locations and limited supply leading to disproportionate house prices for first time buyers.

According to the National Housing Federation, average house prices in rural areas are 11 times the average salary.

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Nigel is the Managing Partner and Head of Litigation and Dispute Resolution in the London office of Mackrell Turner Garrett.