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Housing: Rural Areas

Volume 494: debated on Monday 22 June 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps he is taking to ensure that sufficient housing is built in rural areas. (281338)

In 2006 we published Planning Policy Statement 3: Housing (PPS3), which requires local authorities and regions to take a positive and active approach to setting housing provision figures for local planning authorities and housing market areas, and adopting targets for the delivery of affordable housing. PPS3 also confirms that local authorities in rural areas can use the Rural Exception Site policy to deliver solely affordable housing on sites which would not normally be used for housing, and for that housing to be kept as affordable in perpetuity.

In September 2007 the Prime Minister asked Matthew Taylor to conduct a review of the rural economy and affordable housing. Matthew’s report (‘Living Working Countryside’) was published in July 2008. This included a number of recommendations on the delivery of rural housing. The Government published their response on 25 March 2009, broadly accepting almost all of the recommendations. We are now implementing those recommendations.

As part of our current £8.4 billion investment from 2008-11 for affordable housing, we have set the Homes and Communities Agency a target of the completion of 10,300 homes in smaller rural communities of under 3,000 people. This represents a real step up in comparison with previous delivery. To date there are forecast completions of over 6,600 units for this period. However, given current conditions, it is too early to predict outputs with certainty over this time period.