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New Rural Productivity Plan suggests growth and development will override countryside protection

20 August 2015

The Government has published a 10-point plan that will be put into action to increase productivity growth in England’s rural areas.

In response to today's announcement, John Rowley, planning officer at the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), said:

"CPRE welcomes the Government’s recognition that rural areas can play an important role in generating economic growth, and that they need good quality housing and services in order to achieve this.

"We are concerned, however, that the Rural Productivity Plan suggests that growth and development in the countryside will override the protections of our beautiful English countryside. The proportion of development on greenfield sites is currently at its highest since 1999 and the proposals for further planning deregulation risk putting villages and landscapes at additional risk of inappropriate developments.

"We recognise that providing the right houses in the right places that meet local need is a vital part of ensuring that our villages remain vibrant and sustainable. However, the proposals set out in the Rural Productivity Plan risk alienating local communities and reducing the amount of affordable housing in rural areas. The Government’s suggestion that young families will be able to afford houses at even 20% discount will not ring true in many low-waged rural economies.

Rural housing should be provided to meet identified local need. Without a recognition of the distinctive needs of rural areas, the Government’s drive to encourage Starter Homes will significantly undermine this principle and could turn villages against new development as Starter Homes will be available to anyone and it’s likely that commuters will be able to outbid local families. And the 20% discount which the purchaser of the property will benefit from will not remain in perpetuity. The result will be that there is no incentive for local people to support this type of development. The proposed extension to the Right to Buy to include housing association properties will also add to this problem. Rural areas should be exempted from the extension to Right to Buy in order to protect the already dwindling stock of affordable homes available."

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