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Rural Economy and Affordable Housing

Volume 501: debated on Thursday 26 November 2009

The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and I are today publishing a prospectus for a £1 million Rural Masterplanning Fund. I am also publishing a consultation on guidance to incentivise landowners to bring forward additional land for affordable housing in rural areas and the Matthew Taylor Review Implementation Plan. These documents are being published following commitments made in the Government’s response to the Matthew Taylor review published on 25 March 2009.

In September 2007, the Prime Minister asked the hon. Member to undertake a review on how land use and planning can better support rural businesses and deliver affordable housing and to report to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Minister of State for Housing and Planning. The final report of the review, with detailed recommendations, was published in July 2008.

Our response welcomed the review and set out our proposals to take forward most of the review’s 48 recommendations to continue to encourage a prosperous rural economy and improve the delivery of affordable rural homes.

The Rural Masterplanning Fund prospectus invites rural local planning authorities to bid for expert technical support to assist them in masterplanning to achieve the sustainable expansion of small or medium-sized settlements, and sets out the terms of the competition.

The consultation paper seeks views on our draft guidance to local authorities on how to encourage landowners to bring forward land for affordable housing in rural areas. The guidance proposes: either allowing landowners the ability to refer family members or employees for tenancies to a percentage of the homes provided on their land, as long as they meet housing need and local connection criteria; or allowing them to keep the freehold of the land while leasing it to a housing association.

The Matthew Taylor Review Implementation Plan provides an update on progress in implementing each of the recommendations of the Matthew Taylor review.

I have placed a copy of these documents in the Libraries of both Houses.