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Rural Housing

Volume 175: debated on Wednesday 27 June 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he intends to issue planning guidance on land for low-cost housing in rural Wales.

There was an excellent and constructive response to the consultation which the Welsh Office carried out last year. Thirty-two local planning authorities and 16 other organisations wrote in reply to the Welsh Office letter and my right hon. Friend and I are grateful for the time and thought which they gave to the proposed planning guidance.Most of the respondents supported the objectives of the guidance and agreed that in suitable places it would encourage the sale of land for low-cost housing at less than full residential value and hence reduce the cost of providing the accommodation itself. There were reservations about the degree of benefit, concern about possible adverse environmental effects of a large-scale growth of housing in rural communities and about the cost of servicing a proliferation of sites in villages, as well as many comments of detail.My right hon. Friend has concluded that to complement existing policies for the provision of low-cost housing in rural areas planning guidance should be issued along the lines of the consultation paper. He recognises proper concerns about the environment and about design and will ensure that in the guidance the importance which he attaches to these will be emphasised. He will also take the opportunity to stress that the scale of provision which he envisages will not be great and certainly not such as to swamp any village with new houses or to put any community at risk because of overprovision of low-cost housing whose disposal is constrained to a low-priced local market. The guidance will be included in a comprehensive planning policy guidance note on land for housing.Meanwhile the Secretary of State takes the view that in considering planning applications for dwellings in rural areas local planning authorities may accept as a material consideration the fact that watertight arrangements are in place which will ensure that the proposed dwellings are available only to provide affordable accommodation for local people. The local planning authority will of course also have to take into account the provisions of the development plan and all other material considerations. In so doing, they will be expected to have regard to the environmental impact of the proposal on the community and to the need for sympathetic design as well as to the extent of the local housing need which the proposal sets out to satisfy.