Planning rules are a barrier to solving rural housing crisis

Half of landowners believe there is a rural housing crisis in their community but are being put off building new homes on their land by a complex, risky and inflexible planning system.

The Country Land & Business Association (CLA) has called on local planning authorities to give small private developers greater certainty and support to navigate the planning system, as its research shows 59% of its members said this is the biggest barrier to development.

The CLA said encouraging small private developers to build rental properties could all but end the acute shortage of housing in rural areas.

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The organisation revealed the results of a survey of 1,000 of its members in a new report – Strong Foundations: meeting rural housing needs – published on Wednesday (5 July).

Socio-economic benefits

The report sets out how the planning system must change to enable socio-economic growth in rural areas.

The survey revealed that while 42% are planning on building up to two new homes on their land in the next five years, 63% would build more if there was greater support to work through the planning process.

CLA President Ross Murray said: “Over 6 million people live in our rural communities. Planning policy must be more positive about the socio-economic benefits that development can bring about, and should focus more on what development is needed to ensure these areas thrive in the future, rather than attempting to restrict settlement growth.

“Incremental growth on a small scale could make a huge difference to the housing shortage across our villages.

“A quarter of CLA members wish to build affordable homes and 40% want to build new homes to rent, so it is clear rural landowners have the capacity to meet the housing needs of people who want to live and work in the countryside but who are priced out.”

The CLA said 45% of its members let at least one property below market rent. The majority of these are to employees, but a third are let to members of the local community.
“Without a mix of homes for people who want to live and work in the countryside, rural areas are at risk of becoming only the preserve of commuters, the retired and holiday homes,” said Mr Murray.