COUNCILS are failing to make use of powers that help provide homes for families in rural areas, it has been claimed.
The Country Land and Business Association highlighted figures showing just 1,020 affordable homes were built last year on rural exception sites, the lowest level for five years.
Rural exception sites allows agricultural land where planning permission would not normally be granted, to be used for small numbers of affordable homes for local families.
In North Yorkshire, 10 homes were built on rural exception sites last year, down from 73 the previous year.
CLA president Ross Murray said: “Rural exception sites are designed to provide much needed affordable homes for the local community in perpetuity and should be used to their maximum potential.
“A three-year low in building rates is bad news for rural communities struggling with the cost of housing but unsurprising when coupled with the uncertainty caused by the Housing and Planning Act and the Government’s extension of the Right to Buy to housing association tenants.
“The figures also highlight large discrepancies between how local authorities are using rural exception sites.
“Housing need is widespread but Cornwall Council has provided nearly one fifth of all affordable housing on these sites over the past five years while others have provided none at all.”
The CLA is campaigning for changes to planning rules to make it easier to develop on these sites.
The proposed changes include giving landowners permitted development rights to build affordable homes on rural exception sites.
The organisation is also suggesting landowners could also be allowed to build some full market value houses as an incentive to making the land available for affordable homes and be given tax breaks.