Call for local authorities to help with affordable rural homes

Local authorities are ignoring ways to deliver affordable homes for local people across the countryside, says the Country Land and Business Association.

New government data shows that despite a 9% increase in affordable homes built in small rural communities across England, only 51 more than the previous year were built on rural exception sites, farmland not usually granted planning permission but used for affordable housing developments. The CLA which represents landowners, farmers and rural businesses welcomed the overall increase but said local councils across England could use these sites more effectively to help  solve the rural housing crisis.

“Housing need is widespread throughout rural England," said CLA Housing Adviser Matthew O’Connell.  “Rural exception sites are a key means of providing affordable homes in rural areas where a landowner provides land at below market value to build affordable homes for local people. It is clear that local authorities are missing a trick by not using these sites to their full potential.

“We know that 27% of CLA members want to build affordable housing and many are keen to manage their own affordable properties. To harness this ambition, local councils and housing associations must engage with rural landowners to help bring more sites forward increasing the range of housing options for people in rural areas. Without challenging a few orthodoxies we are not going to solve the rural housing crisis. New build rented housing, affordable home ownership and affordable rented homes are all crucial to maintaining a living, working countryside. With the right support and incentives, rural landowners hold the key to easing the acute shortage of housing in the countryside.”

To help increase the supply of affordable homes across the countryside the CLA is calling on the Government to formalise the process for landowners to manage affordable homes, implement Housing White Paper proposals on rural exception sites, exempt properties provided as affordable homes from liability for Inheritance Tax and exempt the value of land sold for affordable homes from Capital Gains Tax