Headlines: May 12th, 2006

The Housing Corporation is calling on local authorities to make the provision of affordable homes in rural communities a priority in their planning policies. The Corporation has announced it’s making 230 million pounds available to build six thousand new affordable homes in rural areas but it says more needs to be done and it cannot deal with the shortage of affordable housing on its own.The Corporation’s Chief Executive, Jon Rouse, said it had a long and positive history in rural housing and had funded the building of 26,000 homes in small villages across England. “It is increasingly recognised just how great the problem of lack of affordable rural housing is, particularly where people are unable to find an affordable home near where they work or close to their family and friends,” he said.

The Corporation, he added, needed local authorities to play their part and he called for them to prioritise the provision of suitable housing within their policies, including making sufficient land available to house local people. The Corporation also wants councils to use planning agreements with confidence to secure affordable housing contributions from developers and to plan ahead, so that the Corporation can develop a programme of forward investment for the most rural counties.

“We are committed to continuing to work alongside regional housing boards and local authorities to tackle this problem and create more affordable home in rural communities,” Jon Rouse added.

The latest funding comes from the Corporation’s 3.9 billion pound National Affordable Housing Programme, which will run over the next two years following the success of a previous two-year programme that exceeded targets for rural housing set by the Government. Under the latest announcement the largest allocation, 58.9 million pounds goes to the South West where the plan is for more than 1,600 new homes. The South East also gets more than 50 million pounds for 1,190 homes and the Eastern region will receive 42.9 million for 1,214 homes. Other allocations are designed to see the building of more than 900 affordable homes in the East Midlands, 490 in the West Midlands, 419 in Yorkshire and Humberside, 269 in the North West and 158 in the North East.