When the Government released the Housing White Paper ‘Fixing our broken housing market’ in February, they also launched a consultation into the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) which included proposed changes geared to stimulating the house building sector and overall had a fairly positive tone for communities. The consultation closed today and ACRE has submitted a response which urges decision makers to ensure that the rural voice is heard and listened to, in respect of building in rural areas.
ACRE supports appropriate development in rural areas especially the provision of affordable housing, to enable communities to develop and thrive. Sustainable development also underpins local service delivery and improves the quality of life of those living in rural areas.
ACRE, through the ACRE Network helps communities to establish a need for housing in rural areas including identifying the need for affordable dwellings. This work is led by a network of ACRE Network employed ‘Rural Housing Enablers’ (RHEs), who are also members of the national RHE group. ACRE Network members also facilitate the development of Community-led and Neighbourhood Plans in rural areas across England to help communities to develop appropriate local need and evidence based policies regarding future development in their area.
Included in the consultation response, the following points highlight the main priorities which ACRE believes the Government must consider regarding any proposed changes in the NPPF:
- There is a need to ensure that any alterations to the NPPF have been rural proofed
- The specific challenges faced by rural communities such as; an ageing population, access to services and availability of affordable housing should considered in relation to any proposed housing development
- Local Authorities must be empowered to make decisions based on established need in rural communities in their area, especially if there is evidence to include affordable housing on a small scale site
- Neighbourhood Development Plans significantly contribute a local voice to planning decisions, they should be respected and appropriate support offered to enable them to continually update the evidence base in line with local housing need