Rural campaigners say they can help solve the housing crisis

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housing crisis, rural campaigners, planning system,
© Darius Sulcius

Rural campaigners have argued that the current ‘outdated’ planning system is holding the UK back and say the government should let them help ease the housing crisis

The government’s annual target is to build 300,000 new homes, but fewer than 200,000 homes were built in 2017-18. As the UK’s population is expected to rise by a further 2 million people by 2030, rural campaigners want to help supply the demand for more housing in the UK.

The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) has argued that local authorities have had their planning budgets cut by 55% since 2010, leaving planning departments in crisis.

President of the Country Land and Business Association, Mark Bridgeman, said: “For years politicians have complained about the housing crisis while ignoring the fact that the answer is right under their noses.

“If just ten homes were built in every village the housing crisis in rural communities would be eased considerably. Landowners are wanting to help but are being put off by endless bureaucracy, spiralling costs and a lack of planning officers.

“With such drastic cuts to planning departments we are left with too few planning officers, and those who are in post are stretched to the limit, which can cause significant delays.

“Rather than representing a barrier to growth, the planning system should enable and enhance the delivery of developments in rural communities. The government must decide what it wants the planning system to deliver and then provide adequate resources to achieve those aims.

“A simpler and better-resourced planning system would restore confidence in decisions and encourage more applications to come forward, unlocking the potential of the rural economy.”

Solutions to the housing crisis put forward by the CLA include:

  • For local planning authorities to undertake a Housing Needs Assessments across all rural settlements to identify local needs – with particular attention given to affordable housing and the elderly. This would give parish and community councils greater responsibility for working with landowners to identify housing need.
  • New permitted development rights for new-build, affordable housing on rural sites. This would allow landowners to deliver critically-needed affordable homes and meeting high regulatory standards whilst limiting costly delays.

The CLA is campaigning for significant improvements in the planning system as part of its Rural Powerhouse campaign and to help solve the housing crisis.

The campaign highlights how the rural economy could grow by £43bn with the right policies. It also acknowledges the availability of quality housing of all types and tenures is a fundamental principle in attracting talent to the countryside.

Bridgeman added: “One of the reasons landowners want to help solve the housing crisis is that they can see their own communities struggling – with talented young people leaving for the city and high house prices putting off local residents.

“If we are to encourage people with skills and talent to remain or move to the countryside, then we need to be able to build environmentally sustainable yet affordable homes that people want to live in.”

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