Landowners want better support to ease rural housing crisis

Landowners say they would build more affordable rural homes on their land if the planning system was more supportive, according to a survey by the Country Land and Business Association.  Picture by Gareth Fuller/PA Wire.
Landowners say they would build more affordable rural homes on their land if the planning system was more supportive, according to a survey by the Country Land and Business Association. Picture by Gareth Fuller/PA Wire.
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Almost two-thirds of rural landowners would build new homes to tackle a crisis in affordable places to live in the countryside if they had more faith in local planning authorities, according to a new study published today.

The acute shortage of housing in rural areas could be “all but ended” if these small private developers had greater certainty and support to navigate “restricted” planning policy, the report by the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) states.

Ross Murray, president of the CLA, and Dorothy Fairburn, director for the CLA in the North. Picture by Tony Johnson.

Ross Murray, president of the CLA, and Dorothy Fairburn, director for the CLA in the North. Picture by Tony Johnson.

Its survey of members across England and Wales, found that half believe there is a housing crisis in their community, but that many are put off from building new homes to rent or buy because of a planning system that is perceived to be “too complex, risky and inflexible”.

More than two-fifths of CLA members plan to develop one or two additional properties in the next five years, but 63 per cent said they would build more new homes if there was greater support from the local authority to work through the planning process.

CLA president Ross Murray, who is due to attend the Great Yorkshire Show in Harrogate next week, said: “Over six million people live in our rural communities. Planning policy must be more positive about the socio-economic benefits that development can bring about, and should focus more on what development is needed to ensure these areas thrive in the future, rather than attempting to restrict settlement growth.”

Mr Murray said: “Incremental growth on a small scale could make a huge difference to the housing shortage across our villages. A quarter of CLA members wish to build affordable homes and 40 per cent want to build new homes to rent, so it is clear rural landowners have the capacity to meet the housing needs of people who want to live and work in the countryside but who are priced out.

“Without an appropriate mix of homes in the countryside, rural areas are at risk of becoming only the preserve of commuters, the retired and holiday homes.”

Dorothy Fairburn, the CLA’s regional director, acknowledged that The North and East Yorkshire Rural Housing Enabler Network and its partners had exceeded its annual target for building affordable homes in rural areas, including homes in Hutton Rudby, Grassington and Helmsley, but she said the current planning system is still not supportive enough of local authorities, organisations and landowners who want to build affordable homes.

Miss Fairburn added: “The lack of affordable housing should also be viewed in tandem with poor digital infrastructure in the countryside. A recent report by consumer organisation Which? found Ryedale to be one of the worst areas in the UK for broadband speeds.”

PROGRESS IN YORKSHIRE

Twelve rural communities in North and East Yorkshire have been earmarked to pilot new community-led housing projects that should lead to more affordable homes.

Communities identified by the North and East Yorkshire Rural Housing Enabler Network are: Aislaby, Burton in Lonsdale, Castleton, Helperby, Hirst Courtney, Hudswell, Hutton Rudby, Ingelby Arncliffe, Leaholm, Leyburn, Newsham and Thornton Watlass.

The Hudswell scheme is up and running, with three affordable cottages made available for rent in the village.