Young people face rural affordable housing blow


- Credit: PA

Villages could be deprived of much-needed affordable housing after Whitehall scuppered a pioneering and long-practised scheme to help rural communities.

For 13 years Suffolk Coastal has insisted that one-in-three homes in non-urban areas are affordable, or that developers should give a sum of money to enable the affordable housing to be built on another site.

Now though the Government has amended planning practice guidance so councils may only insist on affordable housing where ten or more properties are being built.

As most village developments are usually infill or small plots of land featuring only a handful of homes, it could restrict affordable properties to towns – and prevent even more young people staying in the countryside or close to their families.

Geoff Holdcroft, Suffolk Coastal’s cabinet member with responsibility for planning, said the council remained committed to ensuring developers provide affordable homes in the area, but was also very conscious of the pressing need for homes of all types across Suffolk Coastal.

He said : “As these changes have just come into force, we are yet to see how they will affect the mix of homes which will be built in this district.

“It is our fear that, whilst it may deliver more homes in urban environments, it could have an adverse effect in rural districts such as ours, where development in villages tend to be small.

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“This is exactly where we need the affordable homes, in order to encourage young people to stay in the area.

“Our challenge is to achieve a balance between the need for homes generally, and the specific need for affordable housing in rural areas.

“We will be monitoring the situation closely to see what difference the change makes and we are aware that two authorities in Berkshire have lodged a legal challenge against the secretary of state about the implementation of this change.

“We will also await with interest the outcome of the challenge.”

The change to regulations – which also include the removal of playspace contributions for less than ten homes – was made at the end of last year and the council has had to review all of its planning applications under consideration.

Developers of land at Saxtead Road, Framlingham, have been told they will no longer need to include affordable home as their development is for 10 or less, and a project at the Turks Head Inn, Hasketon, will not have to pay an affordable homes contribution.