The government is facing a fresh confrontation with the House of Lords amid new warnings that its housing policies will deprive rural communities of affordable homes and make them the “exclusive preserve of the affluent”.
With many peers already uneasy about the effects of extending right-to-buy to housing associations, leading peers are now raising concerns about the impact of the policies on country areas where low-cost properties to buy or rent are in short supply.
The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE)demanded that country areas be exempted from the latest right-to-buy plans. “Rural areas already face a shortage of affordable homes and an ever-growing gap between wages and house prices,” said Luke Burroughs, the campaign’s policy adviser.
“As homes bought under the right-to-buy scheme are inevitably resold on the open market at prices way beyond the reach of those they were built for, families and young workers face the prospect of being forced out. The government has attempted to allay fears by arguing that restrictions are in place and that each home sold under the scheme will be replaced. Yet these restrictions do not at all prevent the sale of affordable housing in rural areas, and replacements are not guaranteed to be built in the local area.
In fact, if there’s a shortage of affordable housing in these areas, whoever owns it, the answer is still to build some more. Because that’s the correct response to a shortage: increase the supply.
No, this doesn’t mean concreting over this green and pleasant land. I would absolutely guarantee that you could increase the amount of housing in any and every English village, townlet and hamlet by 10% and after 5 years no one would be any the wiser. There is always a little pocket of underused land around. Simply because we don’t in fact plough, live upon nor forest every corner of this admittedly green and pleasant land.
Stop whining about it and just get on with it.