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COUNCIL LEADERS SET OUT PLANS TO INCREASE AFFORDABLE RURAL HOUSING

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'Give councils the freedom to set their own priorities and greater control over investment and they will win the ba...
'Give councils the freedom to set their own priorities and greater control over investment and they will win the battle for the right affordable housing in rural areas' - this was the key message delivered by the Local Government Association at their Rural Housing Commission Conference yesterday.

Council leaders told delegates that unless local authorities are given increased control over investment decisions and freedom to set their own housing priorities, they will be unable to prevent small vocal groups who do not represent the local community's best interests from blocking the needed increase in affordable rural housebuilding programmes.

The severe shortage of affordable housing in many rural areas means that young people and people on local wages cannot afford homes to buy or rent locally. This is a major concern for residents and business leaders who recognise that young people are the life blood of rural towns and villages, but opposition to new housing in rural areas can still be very strong.

LGA environment board member Gary Porter said:

'Rural councils agree with the Affordable Rural Housing Commission on the importance of working with local communities and the need to build a consensus from the grass roots up. It is vital to winning the arguments for affordable housing and making sure that the needs of local people are met by delivering housing where it is vital and necessary.

'Councils need to be given the power to lead on the delivery of affordable housing, communicating the need to local people in order to overcome objections and deliver the right sort of housing and infrastructure that is suitable for the area.

'If we are given increased control over investment decisions and freedom to set our own priorities, we in local government will be able to take the frontline position against those opposed to development of any kind who can often present a real barrier to the affordable housing our rural communities desperately need if they are to have a successful and sustainable future.'

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