Rural estate owners should work with local authorities to create more affordable new homes, a report from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has said.
The report, Our Rural Policy Paper, highlighted a 76 per cent shortfall in rural affordable housing, adding affordable rural housing ‘is fast becoming a thing of the past’.
It found the average cost of a house in some countryside communities can outstrip average annual wages 11 times over.
Calling on landowners behind England’s 5,000 largest rural estates to release land for affordable housing, it set out a number of recommendations as to how central and local Government could better manage rural land and support countryside communities, including offering measures to encourage large landowners to release space on their estates for eight or more affordable houses. This might include partial inheritance tax exemptions or allowing heirs to avoid paying taxes on any affordable properties within the estate.
Tom Selby of land and property specialists Rostons added: “Local councils will have to work sympathetically with estate owners to encourage the release of land for eight or more affordable houses, based on long leaseholds, which would allow estates to retain long term interests.”
CLA housing adviser Matthew O’Connell agreed the lack of homes - of all types and tenures - in the countryside was ‘extremely worrying’ for rural communities and the rural economy.
Mr O’Connell said while the report recognised the important role of landowners in the delivery of affordable homes in rural areas, landowners had a long history of bringing forward land ’at considerable undervalue’ for affordable housing.
Worryingly, he said there were some policies proposed in the new Housing and Planning Bill which could ‘exacerbate’ the rural housing crisis.
“Extending Right to Buy to housing association tenants in rural areas will reduce the already small number of affordable properties that are already available. The CLA is therefore calling for an exemption for rural communities,” said Mr O’Connell.
“Similarly, the inclusion of starter homes on Rural Exception Sites will act as a significant disincentive for landowners to release land for affordable housing. Although starter homes are classed by the Government as ‘affordable housing’ they can be sold after five years at full market rate so it is questionable why a landowner would donate land or release it at a lower price.”