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How to get to affordable rural housing

  • by JW

From social housing to exception sites.


There was fairly mixed news and mixed views when it came to housing and the budget – with the Chancellor promising £242M of investment for housing and cutting tax on house sales on the one hand, and on the other, the property market complaining that this was another wasted opportunity to address UK housing issues.

Away from the House of Commons, the Rural Services Network has been looking at other approaches.

In one recent piece, the RSN looked at empowering communities: the economic & social gains of housing initiatives. Here are a couple of those:

Swift Economic Boost

In recently published research by Shelter and the National Housing Federation, executed by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), a compelling case is made for the economic and social benefits of constructing 90,000 social rented homes annually. This initiative, beyond addressing the dire need for affordable housing, promises a staggering £51.2bn addition to the economy, with effects felt almost immediately. Within a year, £32.6bn would be generated, supporting almost 140,000 jobs, showcasing the rapid impact on the economy and employment.

The Case for Rural Affordable Homes

Research commissioned by the Rural Services Network, CPRE, and English Rural Housing in 2020 highlights the critical need for affordable homes in rural areas, especially in the wake of the pandemic. Building just ten new rural homes can inject £1.4 million into local economies, supporting jobs and generating significant government revenue. However, homelessness in rural England has alarmingly doubled in the last two years, with rural local authorities witnessing a significant increase. This surge points to a growing crisis in the countryside.

The Economic Impact of Building Social Housing – Full ReportSummary

Rural Recovery and Revitalisation – Full Report,  Summary

And in another piece, the RSN looked at the crucial role of rural exception sites: a path to affordable housing. Here’s the conclusion with further links:

Recent research conducted by the University of College London (UCL), commissioned by the Rural Housing Network, sheds light on the critical factors affecting the successful delivery of affordable housing through Rural Exception Sites in rural England. These sites are key to providing local residents with affordable homes while maintaining community character, yet their full potential remains largely untapped. Refer to the full report of the UCL research on the effective delivery of Rural Exception Sites in England for further details and in-depth insights .

Here’s a definition from that report: Factors in the Effective Delivery of Rural Exception Sites in England:

The RES mechanism seeks to bring land forward land for non-market development at a price that supports the delivery of affordable housing for local need. A lower land price will mean a lower development cost, and therefore an opportunity to build homes that can be rented to local households at an affordable price. 

Finally, Policy 10 of the Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan is all about Exception Sites:

Exception site residential development of land which lies immediately adjacent to the built-up area boundary and is well related to the pattern of adjacent developments in the vicinity will be allowed if it complies with the requirements of this policy and provides for no more than 15 dwellings at any one site.

Exception site developments will be required to include at least 66% affordable housing and all the housing whether market or affordable must be of a type and size required to meet local housing need as set out in SVNP Housing Policy 12. Affordable housing must be accompanied by a Planning Obligation requiring that occupants meet the local connection criteria set out in SVNP Housing Policy 13.

Market housing will also be expected to be accompanied by a Planning Obligation requiring occupants to meet the local connection criteria set out in SVNP Housing Policy 13.