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Rural Communities: Housing

Volume 684: debated on Monday 10 July 2006

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the publication of the Joseph Rowntree report on rural housing, whether they have considered enabling county and rural districts to commission developers to construct affordable housing on council land and then to sell the completed home to first-time buyers with a rural background.[HL6132]

Local authorities already have powers under Section 32 of the Housing Act 1985 to dispose of properties they have had developed with a discount to priority purchasers. They may also dispose of land to registered social landlords for the development of affordable housing.

Our new HomeBuy scheme will expand the opportunity for home ownership to over 100,000 households by 2010, including through the first-time buyers initiative, which uses public sector land. The shared equity task force has been established to examine further ways to increase the number of people able to benefit from shared equity products and the case for government intervention. As part of its work, the shared equity task force will be evaluating the costs and benefits of different models for delivering affordable housing, including the use of public sector land. The task force is due to report at the end of 2006 to inform the Comprehensive Spending Review decisions in summer 2007.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the publication of the Joseph Rowntree report on rural housing, whether they have considered enabling county and rural districts to acquire, from developers and others holding land in rural areas, sites suitable for use for the construction of affordable homes.[HL6133]

There is nothing to prevent local authorities from acquiring sites in rural areas that are suitable for the construction of affordable homes. We are encouraging local authorities to consider innovative uses of land and mixed-community proposals to deliver more affordable housing.

The rural exception site policy allows local authorities to allocate small sites in and around small rural communities for affordable housing to meet local needs, in locations which may be subject to policies of constraint such as green belts.