Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government
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Affordable housing in rural areas safeguarded for future generations

Affordable rural homes in thousands of newly designated 'protected' areas will be safeguarded for future generations of first time buyers under new provisions announced by Housing Minister Ian Austin today.

In rural areas where replacing affordable housing is difficult new shared ownership properties will have to remain shared ownership to ensure future buyers also have a chance to step on to the property ladder.

Generally, shared owners can staircase up to full ownership. But in some rural areas it is incredibly hard to replace homes that become fully owned and are subsequently sold on the open market.

Now under new powers in the Housing and Regeneration Act 2008, more than 13,000 small rural settlements will be designated 'protected' areas across England. These will be areas where land to build new affordable homes is severely limited or where it is not possible to buy existing properties for shared ownership because of the small size of the housing market.

Shared ownership properties in these 'protected' areas will be retained by either restricting to 80 per cent the share owners can buy or allowing owners to acquire up to 100 per cent but ensuring the provider, for example a housing association, buys the property back to retain it for future purchasers.

Shared ownership has already helped thousands of first time buyers onto the property ladder by allowing them to buy a share of a property from a housing association and then pay rent on the remaining share.

Ian Austin said:

"We are determined to help provide more homes in rural areas and help first time buyers on to the property ladder.

"These new measures will not only help protect affordable rural homes but also boost the number of properties available.

"We simply can't afford to lose shared ownership homes in areas where they are difficult to replace which is why these new provisions on ownership are so important."

The provisions allow organisations and companies, other then housing associations, to provide shared ownership properties, while benefiting from the same protections as housing associations with leasehold properties that owners wish to staircase up to full ownership.

Mr Austin is also today boosting the Governments support for Community Land Trusts (CLTs) to help ensure more are set up to provide much needed affordable housing.

This is the first Government to recognise the potential of CLTs and has already supported their development by both providing funding through the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) and by carrying out a successful pilot study.

CLTs are private bodies that own or control land and assets for the benefit of the community. This mainly involves providing shared ownership or social rented homes on land provided by the CLT. Support for these Trusts will now go even further to help enable more grass roots development.

A £500,000 grant is being made to the charity Carnegie UK to further develop the CLT sector by developing a trade body, launching a website with portal and forum to provide information on creating a Trust and providing training courses for professionals working for lenders, local authorities etc. Carnegie UK will also look at sources of finance and set up a steering group of lenders, local authorities and housing associations to drive forward the sector.

The HCA will explore the role of local authorities in developing affordable housing through CLTs and commission a study to examine the non-cash benefits CLTs bring about.

Matthew Taylor MP, who recently produced the Taylor Review into rural housing said:

"Rural villages will die if the people who work in local shops, farms and businesses can no longer afford to live there. Today's move to ensure affordable homes for local people stay affordable in the long term, and communities are encouraged and supported in building small scale, new affordable housing though Community Land Trusts, are vital for many villages."

Notes to editors

1. The provisions for creating protected rural areas and retaining shared ownership properties are contained in sections 300 to 302 of the Housing and Regeneration Act 2008.

2. The new provisions will come into force on September 7 and apply to all new shared ownership leases for houses granted after this date.

3. A full list of the protected areas can be found at (external link) by entering the SI number (2098) in the search box.

4. The Homes and Communities Agency is the Government's housing and regeneration delivery body.

5. The pilot study CLG carried out into CLTs involved 14 pilots. The rural ones were in:

  • Holsworthy in Devon,
  • St Miniver in Cornwall,
  • Buckland Newton and Worth Matravers in Dorset,
  • Carhamton and Withycombe in Somerset,
  • Bishops Castle in Shropshire, and
  • Chipping in Lancashire.


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