Statement by the Rural Coalition on the progress of the Housing and Planning Bill
by Paul Dixon, Rural Evidence Manager

At its meeting earlier this week, members of the Rural Coalition welcomed the Government’s intention to respond positively to the cross Party concerns for safeguards for rural affordable housing raised during the passage of the Housing and Planning Bill in the House of Lords. The Government is committed to bring forward amendments to meet the rural concerns when the Bill returns to the House of Commons next Tuesday (3 May)

Lord Robin Teverson, at his last meeting as chair of the Rural Coalition, before stepping down, said “The Rural Coalition, alongside many others, have pressed for changes to the Bill to meet the particular affordable housing needs of rural communities. We applaud the Government’s willingness to take on board the very real concerns from across the political spectrum about the adverse impact of the proposed legislation on the provision of rural affordable housing. The changes promised, and those already secured, show that the Government has listened and we look forward to seeing the detail of how they will meet the commitments given over the coming weeks.”

During debates on the Bill, Peers raised concerns and brought forward proposed amendments on a number of issues affecting the supply of affordable housing in rural areas, in particular,

• to give local planning authorities the discretion to exclude Starter Homes from rural exception sites.

• to exclude rural council properties from the sales of high value vacant council stock, not only in National Parks and AONBs, as the Government has accepted, but also other rural areas across England, which would be adversely affected by the loss of affordable housing and where replacement is difficult.

These, plus the retention of the Clause that would enable local planning authorities to seek affordable housing contributions, either on site or as commuted sums, from all sites in all rural areas, including sites of ten homes or less, will mean rural communities will have the affordable housing they urgently need.

This statement is supported by the following Rural Coalition members

Action with Communities in Rural England

Country Land and Business Association

Plunkett Foundation

National Association of Local Councils

Campaign to Protect Rural England

Rural Services Network

Arthur Rank Centre

Town and Country Planning Association