First ever rural plan in England will boost homes in villages

Villages and towns in England’s rural communities will be allowed to build starter homes for local residents as part of new plans set out by the government.

Under the country’s first ever Rural Productivity Plan the law will be amended to allow Starter Homes to be built on Rural Exception Sites for the first time. This will allow local areas to allocate more sites for Starter Homes specifically for people who already live in the area, or have an existing family or employment connection to the area.

It is part of a wide ranging plant to boost productivity and ensure the countryside becomes an even more attractive place for people to live, work, start a business and bring up a family.

The plan points out that while a lack of housing is currently a national challenge, in rural areas it is a particular constraint to labour and entrepreneurial mobility, adding that the stock of housing is limited in rural areas relative to demand and house prices are on average 6.7% higher in rural areas than in urban areas.

Under the plan the government will increase the availability of housing in rural areas, whilst protecting the Green Belt and countryside. This will include a significant contribution to the 200,000 Starter Homes already announced to be offered at a 20% discount for first time buyers under the age of 40.

‘Through the right combination of measures, the government wants to ensure that any village in England has the freedom to expand in an incremental way, subject to local agreement,’ the report says.

Alongside the review of planning the aim is to ensure local authorities put local plans in place for housing according to agreed deadlines and require them to plan proactively for the delivery of Starter Homes.

The government will also bring forward proposals to speed up the process of implementing or amending a plan and make it easier for them to establish a neighbourhood plan and allocate land for new homes, including through the use of rural exception sites to deliver Starter Homes.

There will be a review the current threshold for agricultural buildings to convert to residential buildings and the introduction of a dispute resolution mechanism for section 106 agreements, to speed up negotiations and allow housing starts to proceed more quickly.

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said that the aim is to create the right conditions for rural communities and businesses to thrive and this means investing in education and skills, improving rural infrastructure, and allowing rural villages to thrive and grow.

‘We’re connecting the countryside to make it just as simple to run a business from Cornwall as it is in Camden. But it’s not just about transport and technology. Our plan will help us create thriving towns and villages where generations of families can open and expand their businesses, buy a home and educate their children at first class schools,’ said Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss.

Communities Secretary Greg Clark that added to this is ensuring that anyone who works hard and aspires to own their own home has the opportunity to do so whether they live in cities, towns or rural communities.

‘All too often young people find themselves exiled from the place they grew up as they are forced to move away to find a home of their own,’ he said.

‘That’s why we’re putting power directly in the hands of rural councils to give the go-ahead for new Starter Homes in their area so local young first time buyers can continue to be a vital part of their communities,’ he added.