New affordable homes policy could help the British countryside to thrive

Rural landowners believe that the building of more affordable homes in the countryside to buy and to rent would encourage more land to be made available for even more much needed housing.

The Country Land Association (CLA) has told the Government that the creation of Entry Level Exception Sites (ELES) as set out in its draft National Planning Policy Framework (NNPF) will benefit rural areas.

The CLA, which represents landowners, farmers and rural businesses, argues that it will allow affordable homes for first time buyers and renters to be built on land next to existing settlements.

The proposed policy could help the countryside to thrive by providing more flexibility and support for cross subsidy than existing policies, encouraging more landowners to make appropriate land available for affordable housing, the CLA says in its submission to the NNPF consultation.

It explains how these sites could present greater opportunities for landowners to build affordable homes as discounted market sale homes can be built and sold without the need for a housing association, which is often not interested in small isolated rural locations.

‘Tackling the rural housing crisis is one of the defining challenges of our time. The rural economy will struggle to achieve its full potential and our villages will not survive if people cannot afford to live and work in the countryside,’ said CLA president Tim Breitmeyer.

‘If implemented correctly by local authorities, Entry Level Exception Sites strike a good balance between providing affordable homes and an economic return that motivates landowners to pursue sites, whilst ensuring sensitive design to meet the needs of the local community,’ he pointed out.

‘Current policy options such as Rural Exception Sites are effective but are used inconsistently across local authorities. They also only work by relying on sites from land owners who choose to donate or sell land at reduced value, so delivery is restricted,’ he added.