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Housing and planning

The Government is clear that everyone, whether living or working in rural or urban areas, should have access to decent accommodation at a price they can afford. The Government recognises that there are particular challenges to achieving this in rural areas and is committed to addressing these through a clearer, more flexible planning regime and a positive programme to build houses where they are needed the most.

The Department for Communities and Local Government has overall responsibility within Government for housing and planning matters. CLG sets out the principles which should underpin planning decisions made by local planning officials through its Planning Policy Statements. Planning policy for Housing is set out in Planning Policy Statement 3 (PPS3). CLG also oversees the provision of new affordable housing in rural areas, and has given the Homes and Communities Agency a target to deliver at least 8,500 affordable home completions in settlements of fewer than 3,000 inhabitants over the period 2008-11.

Government policies and programmes have delivered significant benefits for rural people over the years. Defra and CLG (and the HCA) are building on existing close working to support and deliver the rural affordable homes target. This includes pursuing policies which:

  • provide more planned development in rural areas;
  • address local concerns around tenancy issues
  • examine alternative community led solutions to develop housing in exception sites.

Dan Norris, Minister for Rural Affairs in Defra, met with John Healey, Minister for Housing and Planning in CLG, on 9 November 2009. The Ministers agreed that it was vital that the needs of rural people should be equitably reflected in all mainstream Government policy-making and delivery, and that every effort should be made to ensure that both existing and new housing and planning policies and programmes are properly rural proofed.  They also agreed that Defra and CLG should continue to work together across housing and planning policy areas to implement the recommendations of the Matthew Taylor review (‘Living Working Countryside’) to ease blockages on affordable rural housing, facilitate very small scale rural affordable housing development, and resolve the current problems with village green registration (see Government Response to Taylor report).

Recent achievements:

  • Announcing 36 rural councils that will benefit from a £1m Masterplanning funding for expert support to help design and plan up to 10,000 high quality new homes. A large proportion of these homes will be affordable for local people.
  • Supporting a good practice project until mid 2010 which will enable the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) to: identify gaps in knowledge and commission research/carry out work to fill such gaps; Identify, evaluate and disseminate good practice relating to affordable rural housing delivery.
  • From September 2009, new shared ownership homes in thirteen thousand small protected rural areas will be retained as affordable homes in perpetuity, either by ensuring that owners are only able to purchase up to 80% of the home, or by guaranteeing buy-back if the owner acquires 100%

Page last modified: 23 March 2010
Page published: 23 March 2010