Rural land owners in England and Wales want to build more new homes

Nearly two thirds of rural landowners would build new homes to rent or buy if they had more confidence in the attitudes and processes of local planning authorities, new research has found.

New research from the Country Landowners Association (CLA), which represents land owners, farmers and rural businesses, found that half of members surveyed believe there is a housing crisis in their community, but many are put off developing schemes by a planning system that is perceived to be too complex, risky and inflexible.

More than two fifths of CLA members plan to develop one or two additional properties in the next five years, but 63% said they would build more new homes if there was greater support from the local authority to work through the planning process.

The organisation says giving these small private developers greater certainty and support to navigate the planning system could all but end the acute shortage of housing in rural areas.

‘The rural housing challenge we face is to deliver a range of much needed homes which will reinvigorate our rural areas across England and Wales and help to build a stronger, more sustainable countryside,’ said CLA president Ross Murray.

‘Over six million people live in our rural communities. Planning policy must be more positive about the socio-economic benefits that development can bring about, and should focus more on what development is needed to ensure these areas thrive in the future, rather than attempting to restrict settlement growth,’ he explained.

The CLA believes that incremental growth on a small scale could make a huge difference to the housing shortage across our villages. ‘A quarter of CLA members wish to build affordable homes and 40% want to build new homes to rent, so it is clear rural landowners have the capacity to meet the housing needs of people who want to live and work in the countryside but who are priced out,’ Murray pointed out.

‘Without a mix of homes for people who want to live and work in the countryside, rural areas are at risk of becoming only the preserve of commuters, the retired and holiday homes,’ he added.

The research was unveiled at the CLA’s first ever Housing Summit where land owners involved in developing homes and managing properties across rural communities met and shared experiences about the challenges and opportunities they face.

The report concludes that change is needed to make sure that the current restrictive planning system does not stop socio-economic growth in rural areas by supporting policies on planning, tax and the development of new private rented.

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