INDUSTRY COMMENT: OVER 2,000 ENGLISH VILLAGES ABANDONED FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING
According to new research by the CLA, of 70 Local Plans from rural local authorities, 2,154 villages across England have been deemed unsustainable. This means that housing allocation, which includes the delivery of affordable homes, within these rural communities is either highly restricted or not permitted at all; further intensifying the rural housing crisis.
Topping the list was Cornwall with 213 areas deemed unsustainable, followed by Wiltshire (168) and Central Lincolnshire (132).
Speaking on the matter James Del Mar, Executive Director for Rural Solutions, states: “The rural economy needs to be healthy to ensure the whole UK economy is achieving its full potential. However, with a planning policy which results in the restriction of so many rural houses being built, it is difficult. People who want to live and work in rural areas cannot for want of housing.
There is an ever-increasing requirement for homes in rural locations, borne not only out of demand but also of necessity – with average house occupancy rates now much reduced, rural settlements need more housing if they are to sustain and justify their services (shops, transport etc). A failure to allow sensitive and appropriate development in Rural areas is tantamount to a government abandonment of rural Britain Rural landowners want to help support this need. We know that living in rural environments is expensive, and that general workplace-based earnings are lower than in more urban areas. This prompts a challenge for those seeking to live and work in the rural economy. Notwithstanding this, the health benefits and general amenity of rural areas has much to justify supporting these areas.
Declaring villages unsustainable is tantamount to pickling them in aspic whilst simultaneously writing off their future – the reason many places are charming, attractive, popular and sought after is because of historic and sensitive development – which has allowed them to create their own charm through mix of architectural styles etc. If no further development is allowed, services will continue to be withdrawn, shops and pubs will close and small settlements will become dormitories. Children will be unable to live near their parents and essential services will be provided by those with unsustainable commutes – those in education, health and essential (including emergency) services will have to commute further – if they can get to rural areas at all. Localism was meant to facilitate decision-making by those that know these places best – those that live there. Forcing national designations down on rural settlements from County and District councils is wholly inappropriate and contrary to Localism.
Sensitive and appropriate growth is essential if we are to maintain the life-blood that supports these many wonderful places. It is of course a gross simplification and would not be appropriate in all cases, but if each of these villages expanded by 15 houses, that in itself would deliver more than 30,000 houses. We keep being told that the country needs to build 300,000 houses each year – and that, so far, we are failing to deliver that – it seems beyond belief that the proposed solution towards housing delivery is to further restrict what people want and what the countryside needs.”