MP wants ‘exceptions’ to build affordable rural homes

Kevin Hollinrake, Conservative MP for Malton and Thirsk, at the Great Yorkshire Show in Harrogate.
Kevin Hollinrake, Conservative MP for Malton and Thirsk, at the Great Yorkshire Show in Harrogate.
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THE newly elected MP for one of Yorkshire’s most rural constituencies is keen to see more land released for affordable housing in small villages in a bid to halt the rural exodus from countryside communities.

Increasingly, local authorities need to be flexible in considering the release of small ‘exception’ sites within and adjoining small rural communities in order to provide much-needed affordable housing, Kevin Hollinrake said.

The Yorkshire Post has highlighted how a lack of affordable housing to buy and rent in remote rural areas is driving people away from their communities and into towns; concerns which culminated in a Rural Crisis summit in Richmondshire last autumn.

Speaking at the Great Yorkshire Show today, Mr Hollinrake, Conservative MP for Malton and Thirsk, said he was a keen advocate of exception sites to deliver more affordable housing.

All local planning authorities in rural areas should have a rural exception site policy, the government stipulates, to enable small sites for affordable housing to be allocated or released within and adjoining existing small rural communities, which may be subject to policies of restraint, such as Green Belt, and which would not otherwise be released for housing.

Mr Hollinrake, who has worked in the property industry for 25 years, said: “I’m a big fan of exception sites, so rather than having all our development in the bigger towns, such as the Maltons and Easingwolds, I’m a big fan of spreading some of that development into the smaller villages.

“In terms of small housing schemes, if they are part of the normal planning processes, within development limits in villages, developers don’t necessarily have to provide affordable homes within those schemes - it depends on the areas but within schemes for five or ten units. But exception sites, which wouldn’t normally wouldn’t be allocated for housing, that’s a great way to deliver fantastic affordable homes for local people and you get a higher proportion of those homes that are affordable for sale or for rent.

“We should be looking at that much more frequently, and spread it out in some of our smaller villages to make those villages more sustainable so that the shops and the schools are sustainable, and the local pub. We need to breath new life into some smaller communities as well as build new homes in towns.”

Overall, he was upbeat about the health of the region, saying: “The good news is the economy is doing very well in North Yorkshire, we are very low on unemployment. Clearly there are some big challenges in our core industries, agriculture particularly.

“Dairy farming is facing extreme pressure.”