Headlines: January 14th, 2008

An inquiry has begun in Scotland into the provision of housing in rural areas. It will look at a range of issues, including why, in certain country areas, homes are beyond the financial reach of those who need them most.

Members of the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Affairs and Environment Committee are seeking evidence from interested parties from now until early April. They will try to identify the challenges facing people in different parts of the country in accessing appropriate and affordable housing. They will also measure the effectiveness of existing initiatives and look at what other measures may be implemented in future.

Key questions they have been asked to address include how public funds can be used most effectively in rural areas to increase the supply and quality of affordable housing and what changes may be needed in legislation or guidance to make the planning system more effective in rural areas. They will also consider in what circumstances a lack of available suitable land is the main obstacle to meeting local housing needs. They will examine whether existing grant schemes and financial mechanisms are increasing the supply of appropriate rural housing and consider how new rural housing can be made more environmentally sustainable.

The Committee’s Convener, Roseanna Cunningham, said it was keen to hear from people from rural areas across Scotland to understand where the key problems were. “We are also particularly interested in hearing about successful initiatives which have overcome some of the problems associated with addressing housing needs in rural areas,” she added.