The lack of affordable housing to buy or rent is one of the biggest challenges facing rural communities. Population growth, combined with migration from urban areas, has seen the rural population grow by 800,000 in the last decade, driving up house prices and pricing many families out of the communities in which they work and in which they have often been brought up.

There is clearly a need for more affordable housing, but future developments need to be sustainable and provide the greatest possible opportunity for local consultation. We therefore welcome the emphasis in the White Paper on the need to prioritise small and medium size developments with adequate infrastructure, and the commitment to give communities a stronger voice in the design of new housing to drive up the quality and character of new developments. We also support the proposal to help small, independent builders to enter the housing market in order to create a more diverse and local market.

We will be taking part in the consultation on the White Paper to ensure that these proposals can be turned into practical policy that supports affordable, rural housing.

We will also continue to call for other, innovative ways to support sustainable house building in rural areas. This includes financial incentives for landowners to make land available for affordable housing, and changes to permitted development rights which will give farmers greater flexibility in converting agricultural buildings into housing as we suggested in the Rural Planning Review last year.

Head of Policy, Sarah Lee, commented:

“Rural housing has been one of the biggest challenges facing rural communities for many years. Successive governments have attempted to tackle this issue and some sensible policy suggestions from previous governments in relation to incentives for landowners are still yet to be implemented and we hope these will also be considered. We will work closely with the Government on these latest proposals to ensure that policy addresses the unique needs of rural communities.”