Proposals unveiled for starter homes on rural exception sites
Relaxed planning rules covering the construction of low cost ‘starter homes’ for local residents could be extended to rural towns and villages in England as part of plans to boost the rural economy which also include moves to make neighbourhood planning more straightforward.
Last week the Treasury and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs unveiled a package of proposals aimed at boosting rural productivity.
A key element would involve amending planning rules to allow so-called ‘starter homes’ to be built on Rural Exception Sites for the first time.
According to the policy paper, the government intends to make it easier for local areas to establish their own neighbourhood plans. They could then use these to allocate land for new homes, including starter homes on rural exception sites. The government also intends to review the existing threshold for the conversion of agricultural buildings into residential buildings.
Ministers have promised that in the current bidding round for Enterprise Zones (which closes on 18 September) preference will be given to proposals involving smaller towns, districts and rural areas.
The government has committed to a review of planning and regulatory constraints facing rural businesses. That exercise will be completed by 2016.
Ministers have also announced that a fast-track planning certificate process will be introduced for establishing the principle of development for minor development proposals.
In addition the administration has promised to improve rural transport connections, provide fairer funding for rural schools and work with private sector providers on “alternative solutions” to make broadband internet access available in the most rural areas.