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Rural land release initiative announced

  The UK Government has started consultation on proposals to encourage rural landowners to release more land to be used to build affordable housing for local people.

  Proposals include allowing local landowners to retain the freehold on the land, with housing associations paying an upfront or annual payment for the lease.

  This initiative forms part of the Government's plans to help rural communities thrive by providing more affordable housing and greater freedom to develop strong local economies.

  Ministers have established a £1m fund which will be used to provide help for councils with the best proposals for rural towns and villages. Successful councils will be given specialist advice to develop master plans for new neighbourhoods of high quality housing that will include green spaces, commercial and business premises, shops and services.

  Housing and planning minister John Healey said: "A lack of affordable housing in the countryside can be a real problem for rural communities. That's why we are determined to help young families find homes they can afford where they want to live, and help rural businesses recruit and retain local staff who will not be priced out of the countryside.

  "Local authorities should use the powers they have to plan for new homes and in rural towns and villages. These proposals will give councils the flexibility and expertise they need to help provide affordable homes for local people that are built to a high standard."

  Meanwhile rural affairs minister Dan Norris said: "Master planning encourages a higher quality of life by ensuring rural communities develop in a sensible and sensitive way. It takes into account the need for green space and infrastructure services such as sustainable drainage, water and safe road layouts - as well as schools, shops, parks and housing to meet the needs of all income levels.”


  Roger Milne

  4 December 2009

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