Potential of farmland still ignored in rural housing crisis, says CLA

The CLA believes Rural Exception Sites could present greater opportunities for landowners to build affordable homes
The CLA believes Rural Exception Sites could present greater opportunities for landowners to build affordable homes

Fewer affordable homes are being built in small villages because local authorities are continuing to ignore the potential of developing farmland, according to the CLA.

New government data shows that despite a 17% increase in the total amount of new affordable homes built in small rural communities across England last year, 143 fewer homes were built on Rural Exception Sites, land which is not usually granted planning permission but where affordable development is allowed.

The CLA, a group which represents landowners, said that if Rural Exception Sites are not used to their full potential there is little hope of solving the acute shortage of rural housing.

The group believes these sites could present greater opportunities for landowners to build affordable homes as discounted market sale homes can be built and sold without the need for a housing association, which is often not interested in small isolated rural locations.

CLA President Tim Breitmeyer said: “Rural Exception Sites are a key means of providing affordable homes in rural areas where a landowner provides land at below market value to build affordable homes for local people.

“However, the latest figures show how drastically underused they are. Our own report into making villages sustainable for the future set out ways to ensure local authorities use all the mechanisms available to deliver new rural affordable homes. They must be proactive in order to breathe new life into our rural communities and help to solve the rural housing crisis,” he said.



To encourage the building of affordable homes in rural areas, the CLA has called on the government and local authorities to:

• Change sustainability criteria for rural settlements from an assessment of services the community has, to what it needs

• Allow cross subsidy on Entry Level Exception Sites

• Exempt properties provided as affordable homes from Inheritance Tax

• Enforce up-to-date Local Plans

• Formalise the process for landowners to manage affordable homes