Rural Housing Services

This week the Rural Services Network released that the Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group, Philip Dunne MP, wrote to the Minister of Housing regarding the importance of rural exception sites to deliver affordable housing. This also included the request to permit local authorities in rural areas to set their own site thresholds in relation to housing.

Read the full article from the Rural Services Network.

Read the full letter to the Minister for Housing.

Coming Home Report

In February 2021 ‘Coming Home: Tackling the housing crisis together’ was released by The Commission of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York on Housing, Church and Community.

The report highlights 5 core values to set a new standard and vision for good housing:

  • Sustainable
  • Safe
  • Stable
  • Sociable
  • Satisfying

In order to ensure the increased delivery of affordable homes meeting these 5 core values, the report recommends that the Church of England commits to using its land assets to promote the development of these homes.

Read the full report to see how the church plans to tackle the UK housing crisis alongside the Government and the community.

Rural Housing Summit

The UK Rural Housing Summit is this year being held online between the 21st and 27th of February 2021.

As a part of the UK Rural Housing Summit, ACRE have organised 2 sessions focusing on how rural communities can provide affordable housing and how rural affordable housing can be provided through Neighbourhood Plans. There is also the opportunity to book an appointment with a Rural Housing Enabler.

The Summit also covers community-led housing, rural homelessness, and sustainable rural housing.

Find out more about the whole programme of events.

Government Consultations

There are two new open consultations important to those interested in housing.

Right to Regenerate

Right to Regenerate proposes that the public will be able to require councils and the public sector to sell unused land and assets, making it easier for the public to transform vacant land and derelict buildings into homes, businesses, or community spaces. This will help communities make better use of public land, with public bodies required to sell land if it is kept too long without being used. This could provide great opportunities for land and building access to develop schemes including brownfield sites, unused publicly owned social housing, and garage sites.

Read more about Right to Regenerate.

Consultation is currently open and will be for 8 weeks, closing on 13 March 2021. Be involved in the open consultation. 

National Planning Policy Framework and National Model Design Code

This report was revised to implement policy changes into the National Planning Policy Framework in response to the Building Better Building Beautiful Commission “Living with Beauty” report. It also includes a draft National Model Design Code which provides guidance on the production of design codes, guides, and policies to promote successful design.

Read more about this consultation which closes on 27 March 2021.

Social Housing White Paper

In November the government published the Social Housing White Paper, ‘The Charter for Social Housing Residents’. The proposals in the White Paper aim to make clear the standards that every social tenant in England is entitled to expect from their landlord, with the overarching themes being around safety and resident voice.

The White Paper is split into 7 key chapters, the Charter for social housing residents:

  1. To be safe in your home
  2. To know how your landlord is performing
  3. To have your complaints dealt with promptly
  4. To be treated with respect, backed by a strong consumer regulator for tenants
  5. To have your voice heard by your landlord
  6. To have a good quality home and neighbourhood to live in
  7. To be supported to take your first step to ownership

Read more about these chapters in the full report.

Affordable Rural Housing Will Boost Rural Economies

An article published by English Rural today has demonstrated how investment in rural affordable housing can boost the rural economy. Research undertaken by English Rural alongside CPRE and the Rural Services Network has shown that post-pandemic, investing in rural affordable housing can help to rebuild the economy and tackle rural homelessness.

The report states that for every 10 new affordable homes that are built, the economy will be boosted by £1.4 million, generating £250,000 in government revenue, and supporting 26 jobs. If this impact is scaled up to meet the need of affordable housing in England then this could have a massive positive impact on the national economy.

Despite this evidence of the benefits of building affordable housing, Government’s proposed planning overhauls could hugely decrease the delivery of genuinely affordable homes.

Read the full article from English Rural.

Rural Housing Summit 2021

From 21st – 27th February 2021 Rural Housing Scotland are hosting the Rural Housing Summit 2021 in collaboration with the Northern Irish Housing Executive, Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE), Tai Ceredigion and Irish Rural Link.

The week of free online events plans to promote discussions around the issues associated with rural housing and provide recommendations to tackle these. It also provides the opportunity to showcase successful schemes and projects. The events will be held in a variety of formats from webinars to interactive workshops, with more information on a schedule of events being released soon.

Find out more here.

FAQ paper updated

We’ve updated our FAQ paper. This provides answers to all the questions we are regularly asked when meeting with parish councils and local communities. The paper is sent out with every questionnaire in our Housing Needs Surveys.

You can access the full paper here.

Changes requested to National Planning Policy Guidance to mitigate the negative impacts of Covid-19 on the delivery of rural affordable housing

ACRE, the Rural Services Network and the Rural Housing Alliance have written to the Secretary of State for Housing Communities and Local Government asking for changes to National Planning Policy Guidance. They are concerned that the impact of Covid-19 on the development industry will have damaging consequences for the delivery of rural affordable housing. As things stand, many local authorities are likely to miss their Housing Delivery Test and 5 Year Housing Land Supply targets. This will trigger the presumption in favour of sustainable development.

History tells us that these circumstances make the delivery of rural exception sites challenging. Landowners withdraw sites in the hope they will get permission for market schemes or seek unrealistic land values. Meanwhile, other sites on the edge of villages come forward with inappropriate and excessive schemes oblivious to local needs.

A number of recommendations are made which would support the plan-led system by providing more security to the status of adopted local and neighbourhood plans.

Government thresholds continue to limit supply of rural affordable housing

Updated research has confirmed that government thresholds continue to limit the supply of rural affordable housing. The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) restricts the ability of local authorities to seek affordable housing contributions on schemes of less than 10 dwellings. Research by the Rural Services Network suggests that we could be losing as many as 1,000 rural affordable homes per annum.


A change to the NPPF last year has allowed local authorities to set their own thresholds for seeking an affordable housing contribution. However, this only applies to Designated Rural Areas as defined under section 157(1) of the 1985 Housing Act. Unfortunately this has had no effect whatsoever in Cambridgeshire where no parish is defined as rural under the Act. Lobbying continues to get all rural areas exempted from the threshold.

The research has highlighted the importance of delivering affordable housing directly through small schemes. Initially, the rules allowed a commuted sum to be sought from schemes of 6-9 dwellings. However, in many cases these sums were not spent in the parish where the development occurred as local authorities were unable to find suitable sites. And many local authorities have been unable to spend the money at all.