Give Yorkshire landowners tax breaks to help with affordable housing - report

LARGE landowners in Yorkshire should be offered tax breaks to encourage them to release land for affordable housing, according to a new report.

Chartered surveyors want rural councils to work with large landowners to tackle affordable housing shortages

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said rural councils should approach landowners to try and secure land on a long lease for affordable housing.

It suggested estate heirs could be given “partial exemptions” so they do not have to pay inheritance tax on affordable homes on their land.

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Previous research has suggested average house prices in some of Yorkshire’s rural areas and market towns are up to 12 times typical salaries of people living in those districts.

The growing gap between wages and housing costs has raised concerns about the long term future of rural communities as young families are priced out.

Some areas are expected to see the number of households including an 85-year-old rise by more than half in the next five years.

Jeremy Blackburn, head of policy at RICS, said: “If our rural towns and villages are to thrive, we need to take action to ensure that workers are available to drive local economies.

“Rural poverty is a serious issue that threatens to hamper regional growth.

“We would like to see local authorities work sympathetically with estate owners to encourage the release of land for eight or more affordable houses, based on long leaseholds, which would allow estates to retain long term interests.”

RICS also called for the Government to reverse its decision last year to amend the planning rules to make it easier to build starter homes in rural communties.

Critics have argued the move will actually lead to less land being available for affordable homes in the countryside.

The RICS report on issues affecting rual communities argues that the Government’s move to devolve more powers from Whitehall to local control is too focused on cities and ignores the potential of market towns to grow the region’s economy.

The Government has previously announced more enterprise zones will be created in the countryside as part of its wider plan to boost rural productivity.

Mr Blackburn said: “Market towns are the focus of much economic and service activity in rural areas, particularly in Yorkshire and Humber, but they can be overlooked in terms of their role and potential. A new generation of enterprise zones that can be made appropriate for land based businesses is a welcome first step.

“An urban only devolution agenda is short-sighted and ignores the major contributor that is our rural economy.”