Osborne announces plans to build more starter homes in the countryside

Posted 21 August 2015 by Stephen Maunder

Chancellor George Osborne has announced plans to extend the government’s starter homes initiative to some villages, making it easier for rural areas to obtain planning permission.

The measures are part of the chancellor’s rural productivity plan, which also includes improving transport, schools and broadband in rural areas.

Around 60,000 people move from the city to the countryside each year, and the initiative would allow communities to build starter homes for local residents, with more sites allocated for new homes which can be bought at a 20% discount by first-time buyers with links to the area.

Communities secretary Greg Clark said: "We’re determined to ensure anyone who works hard and aspires to own their own home has the opportunity to do so – whether they live in cities, towns or rural communities. But all too often young people find themselves exiled from the place they grew up as they are forced to move away to find a home of their own."

Steve Reed, Labour's shadow local government minister, said the government is worsening conditions for rural communities. "The government says it wants to build starter homes in rural areas but it seems these will replace affordable homes to buy and rent - starter homes should be additional to affordable housing supply not instead of it," he said.

The Campaign for Rural England, meanwhile, welcomed attentions being turned towards rural areas, but expressed concern about "inappropriate developments".

John Rowley, planning officer, said: "The proposals risk alienating local communities and reducing the amount of affordable housing in rural areas. The government's suggestion that young families will be able to afford houses at even 20% discount will not ring true in many low-waged rural economies."

Mr Rowley also warned of the danger that commuters would outbid local families, thereby nullifying the incentive for local people to back any new developments in their area.

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