Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government
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Government welcomes Matthew Taylor report

Government welcomes Matthew Taylor report

COMMUNITIES AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT News Release (191) issued by The Government News Network on 23 July 2008

The Government today welcomed Matthew Taylor MP's report into rural economies and affordable housing saying that his core proposals support and extend the commitments we have already made to boost affordable housing and ensure that every rural community can share in the nation's prosperity.

The review commissioned by the Prime Minister finds that long term under supply of housing in rural areas is holding our rural communities back. It recommends a new drive to boost rural jobs and community led affordable housing through enterprise hubs, greater home working, neighbourhood extensions to market towns, rural exception sites for local people in villages, and an experimental restriction of second homes in national parks.

Housing Minister Caroline Flint today signalled that the Government agrees with the core principles of the report and will take further measures to boost rural enterprise and affordable housing. She welcomed specific recommendations to ensure that planning policy on economic development reflects the needs of rural areas, as well as Matthew Taylor's proposal for positive planning to ensure that larger settlements maximise sustainability and design quality.

The Government is however yet to be convinced that a restriction of second homes would be either workable or deliver the intended benefits, when there are more innovative ways of providing the affordable housing rural communities need without limiting the rights of second home owners.

Caroline Flint said:

"Matthew Taylor has provided a comprehensive and authoritative report into the issues that our rural communities face, as well as a number of practical recommendations. He has been talking to people right across the country and his report will have a lasting impact on policy that will help their communities prosper. I thank him for that hard work.

"It's simply not fair that people in rural communities struggle to afford a place of their own. I am determined that we do everything we can to further help people in rural communities into home ownership, by for example helping landowners to establish community land trusts and by ensuring councils deliver the sustainable homes their communities need."

Rural Affairs Minister Jonathan Shaw said:

"Everyone should have the chance of a decent home at a price they can afford in a place they want to live and work in, and that goes for rural people too.

"The Government is committed to rural communities - Defra's £3.9billion investment in rural development in England shows that we want to see businesses, jobs and services in the countryside flourish."

Ministers will look at the recommendations in detail and give them careful consideration before publishing a full response later in the year.

The Government has a national target to deliver 10,300 new affordable homes in smaller rural communities (less than 3,000) over the next three years - part of £8.4bn pledged under our biggest ever affordable housing drive. Funding is also now based on completions to ensure homes are delivered.

But we need more market homes too to meet the needs of our rural communities. Our planning policy for housing (PPS3) already puts the onus on local authorities to determine the right level of housing in the right places, taking full account of evidence of local need and demand.

It makes clear that councils can enable small sites in rural areas to be used specifically for affordable housing in and around villages, and provide affordable housing in perpetuity to meet local needs. Councils also have the flexibility to lower the thresholds above which new development should include affordable housing.

We have also supported seven rural Community Land Trusts and will shortly consult on new proposals to support this kind of development and help people on modest incomes to access home ownership.

In 2003 we introduced a new option for billing authorities to give less than 50% discount to second home owners. This has been widely adopted, eased the burdens on permanent residents, and ensured that second home owners make an appropriate contribution to the areas they enjoy.

It has meant that last year 251 councils across England have had approximately £100million of additional revenue to spend as they see fit according to local priorities - which could include provision of affordable homes for local residents.

Notes to Editors

The Prime Minister asked Matthew Taylor, MP for Truro and St Austell, to conduct a review on how land use and planning can better support rural business and deliver affordable housing.

Matthew Taylor has explored how these issues can be addressed - within the context of existing protection for the natural environment - through the application of land use and planning policy. His particular terms of reference are:

* The identification and release of appropriate land for local economic development and affordable rural housing provision, working in conjunction with local government, parish councils and land owners;

* Investigating the potential for increasing the provision of live/work space within rural communities;

* Assessing the local implementation of new planning rules on rural housing following the recommendations of the Affordable Rural Housing Commission.

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