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Call to boost affordable rural housing

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Plans to guarantee affordable housing supply in English rural areas do not go far enough, according to the Countryside Alliance.

The pressure group says Department of Communities and Local Government plans to develop and guarantee long-term affordable housing in rural areas are “a step in the right direction”.

Now under new powers in the Housing and Regeneration Act 2008, more than 13,000 small rural settlements will be designated protected areas across England.

These will be areas where land to build new affordable homes is severely limited or where it is not possible to buy existing properties for shared ownership because of the small size of the housing market.

Countryside Alliance’s Head of Housing, James Legge, said: “While these announcements are a step in the right direction, a broader range of measures are needed to enable rural communities to develop the affordable homes which they so desperately need.

“Landowners need real incentives to release land to increase the supply for development.

“A reduction on the rate of VAT to 5% on all repair, maintenance and home improvement work would encourage the repair and re-use of the estimated 960,000 empty homes in the UK, which will help to protect the countryside and help to meet the desperate need for social housing in rural areas.

“The use of ‘exception sites’ (sites in small villages which have not been allocated for development by local governments) are suitable for small scale housing schemes and could be extended responsibly.”

Countryside Alliance’s policy on affordable housing in rural areas is outlined in its Rural Manifesto, which is a rural ‘blueprint’ for the next government.

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