A minimum of 11,000 affordable houses need to built in Britain’s market towns and villages each year, according to a report by the Affordable Rural Housing Commission.

The report, published on Wednesday (17 May), said rural communities need a major increase in subsidised housing or the next generation will be priced out of the countryside.

The figure of 11,000 houses equates to about six new houses a year in each rural ward.

Elinor Goodman, ARHC chairman, said unless there was action now, rural villages would become dormitories for the better off and places where people go to retire or for the weekend.

“Villages in country towns must be allowed to evolve in the way they did in the past – they can’t just be preserved in aspic,” she said.

“Most can probably absorb some more houses, as long as they are in scale and character and maintain the identity of individual communities.”

The report recommends that planners take account of the social needs of communities as well as the need to protect the environment. It also calls for an increase in public funding for housing in rural areas and suggest that changes to the tax system might encourage a better supply of sites for affordable housing.

Henry Aubrey-Fletcher, deputy president of the Country Land and Business Association, said he was delighted with some of the concrete recommendations in the report. 

“They will not only help to sustain rural communities but also help those farmers and landowners needing employees to help them diversify in the face of the greatest changes in agriculture for a generation.”

To read the report in full visit http://www.defra.gov.uk/rural/housing/commission/default.htm