Britain has experienced a series of affordable housing crisis in the early 1980s and early 1990s (Bramley, 1994). As Andrew Stonell (2010) stated “Localism works-all over the country there are villages very keen to have low-cost housing for local people and they are prevented by the planning system from having it.” This briefing paper refutes Stonell’s claim and is written to the North Eastern Farming and Rural Advisory Network, which is one of new Rural and Farming Networks. The purpose of this paper is indicating the scale and causes of the rural housing crisis, and demonstrating how the planning system enable the process of affordable rural housing, then some recommendations on solve the delivery problems in rural areas. Background
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According to Milbourne (2006), rural housing associates complex economic with socio-cultural processes in countryside areas. Housing in Britain is distributed through the market mechanism, the Labour Administration launched “communities plan” in 2003, focusing on ‘stable housing markets’ to create encompassing, vibrant and sustainable communities (Gallent et al ., 2008). However, the housing price has been increasing over the years, the stock growing 185,000 per annum. Planning Policy Statement 3 (DCLG, 2006) provide information about the scale of housing crisis.
Few areas had high house cost in the early decade, such as London and the South East, but currently there are lots of areas are facing high housing price problem. First time buyers find it quite difficult to buy a house in the market, and this circumstance occurs in most rural areas and smaller settlements. Moreover, the Countryside Agency (2003) reported that almost half of the rural people would have to undertake over 50% of their income in order to afford a home with a mean cost in their district. An estimation has been made by Countryside Agency, in the prospective 10 years period, a demand of 1000 new units of rural affordable housing are need (Countryside Agency, 2003). The particular causes of rural housing crisis mainly include the following issues:
Changes in demography: from 1981 to 2000, rural districts increased by 11.65%, while urban areas had a growth
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of 4.2%. Unequal income distribution among rural people. Lack of housing supply and tenure accompanying increasing housing need Financial deregulation. Uneven and inadequate forms of access to rural housing . A failure of land-use planning: policy priority on landscape preservation Urban people settle down in rural areas: improvements in transport have made it easier for urban people’s commuting and retirement to the countryside “Right to buy” has decreased the number of affordable rented housing for low-income people by local councils. During 1985 to 1990, 91.000 houses were sold in rural areas.
Analysis of how the planning system affect affordable housing delivery In the past 10 years plenty of new policies and legislations have been implemented to concentrate on the role of local government, and the manipulation of planning system, focusing on housing quality and the delivery of affordable rural housing (Gallent et al., 2008). Affordability connects the price of housing with the cost that households afford to pay. Housing affordability refers to a ratio of average housing cost and mean income per month (Gallent et al., 2008).
Low housing affordability is might caused by the priority of planning system, which works against the market demands. It tends to preserve rural landscape rather than deliver land for housing, but the planning system has been changing with the demands of rural people. It can be seen from figure 1, low affordable housing is a common phenomenon in urban and rural areas. During 2006 to 2007, the ratio of housing prices to income reaches to the peak. Since then, the housing affordability has become higher from 2008. Housing planning system played a positive role in delivering affordable rural housing (DEFRA, 2012).
Currently, Planning Policy Statement on June 2011 made plenty of improvements to provide affordable housing. Instead of “Right to buy” regulation, affordable rented housing will be provided to tenants with a maximum of 80% of the total market rent, and available on both fixed term and regular lease (PPS3, 2011). Affordable rent houses will be let by registered providers and the increase of low cost rent houses would provide decent homes to low-income residents and rural people from other villages. To meet the demand of sustainable development in rural areas, PPS7 required government should follow the planning objectives and regulations set out in PPG3, and the purpose is to provide rural people a decent home.
It also indicated that housing requirements and assessment of local affordable housing need should be recognized by local planning authorities. Make sufficient land available and strictly control new house building will promote the construction of low cost houses and make good use of the land. Milbourne (2008) also highlighted that tracing the cooperation with new partnership will lead a wider series of agencies to afford suitable housing in the countryside. PPS3 (2006) indicated that local authorities are not supposed to formulate affordable housing providers in planning conditions and obligations, a discussion will be needed on how to provide affordable housing and long term arrangement. This planning system will control the housing prices and conditions, in order to prevent the malpractice in housing delivery. Case studies
In this section, various case studies are used to demonstrate how planning system enable delivery process. In order to underpin the delivery of Community Led Affordable Housing, some criteria were set out in the Local Development Framework, supported by local communities. One piece of criteria is good design, affordable rural housing must be designed to fit local context (Taylor, 2008). Village design statements implemented by the local community are adopted by local councils as Supplementary Planning Guidance to fit into the local landscape. One exemplify of good design enabling housing delivery is Kettlewell. In 2000, four affordable houses were built in Kettlewell, a sensitive site in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
They were constructed by special materials using a mixture of traditional and modern techniques. The match to landscape and appropriate prices attracted local residents. Home Housing Group owns these five affordable houses. The whole cost were about £380,000 and local Kettle residents have priority of these homes (Countryside Agency, 2003). The local government in Lake District has realized, the affordable housing shortage is a national problem, and the demand of housing is much more serious in the Lake District National Park.
To find out the needs of local residents and viable land to develop, a survey called Windermere Housing Needs were conducted on parishes. And consulting work to housing control staffs were carried out. In accordance with PPS3 (2011), local government formulated strict Core Strategy and Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) on Housing Provision. According to the amended version of SPD on Housing Provision (2011), local government aims to facilitate 900 housing delivery from 2010 to 2025. Furthermore, the Lake District will only allow new houses that commit them to meet the identified local demand or community affordability. The priority is to promote the local affordable housing delivery and Policy CS18 clarifies how to give this priority through the National Park. Conclusion and recommendations
Overall, the housing crisis is a national issue, especially severe in rural areas. Demographic changes, lack of housing supply, policy priority, and other significant factors would lead to rural housing problem. Despite there are some defects exist in the affordable housing delivery process, the housing planning system enable the affordable housing provision. Local Development Frameworks including PPS3 and PPS7 formulate efficient planning policy on providing affordable housing, such as rented houses, making sufficient land available and controlling the power of local authorities. Some examples on Kettlewell and Lake District were used to demonstrate how planning policies encourage the affordable housing delivery process. To enable more affordable housing in rural areas, some suggestions will be discussed.
Firstly, landowners should takes the lead on affordable housing scheme, the property size and prices should follow the policy provision, and the housing market should be controlled by local government. Secondly, local authorities should cooperate with other landowners, providing more lands for housing. The ownership of land can be shared and a joint-stock system can be built, thus the shortage of housing supply will be solved without losing landowners’ benefit. Thirdly, empty property such as living places above shops can be converted to provide housing for local people. The government should concentrate on the landuse and avoid emerging brownfield. If more low cost housing was provided, the affordable housing crisis will be relieved and rural residents could own decent homes.See More on Local government