NPPF Changes Consultation 2015

Ensuring Housing Is Delivered On Land Allocated In Plans - Page 11

Question 17.

Should rural exception sites be used to deliver starter homes in rural areas? If so, should local planning authorities have the flexibility to require local connection tests?

  • Small settlements may be expected to accommodate more than one exception site which could have implications on the existing infrastructure. The policy could result in urban sprawl and deter developers from using brownfield sites. The community and local authority must be able to determine the number and size of rural exception sites, particularly if in the Green Belt or where the development would harm the character of the settlement and surrounding countryside.
  • Rural Exception Sites are already provided for under current planning legislation and arrangements. However, it is our experience with Green Belt settlements that developers look closely at the minimum affordable housing criteria, minimum land area criteria and attempt to maximise market housing rather than affordable housing. It also leads to larger coherent sites being broken up into smaller sites to avoid the minimum criteria. Such sites still have to be assessed against the five purposes of the Green Belt. We oppose any attempt to reduce the minimum criteria for proposed number of dwellings.
  • The survey methodology for determining housing demand for Rural Exception Sites is poor and subjective often leading to potential occupants with no local connections sourced from the LPA general housing lists ending up in the properties. This makes a mockery of the intention to house local people with a connection to the rural community who are unable to afford market housing.
  • The implementation of the ‘right to buy’ within the housing stock of housing associations to implemented in the Planning & Housing Bill currently in front of Parliament will simply mean affordable housing that is generated in this way eventually becoming market housing and the intent to maintain housing for rural workers is negated.
  • We propose that new housing in Rural Exception sites are excluded from the “right to buy” proposals in order to preserve rural housing for rural residents with a connection to the area.

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