Affordable Housing and Rural Areas

The Government has rejected a call by the House of Lords Select Committee on the Rural Economy for a rural strategy to help realise the potential of rural economies.

At Karbon Homes, we’re backing the case for a comprehensive, properly funded cross-departmental rural strategy addressing the challenges and opportunities around digital connectivity, skills and business support, transport, education and health. This blog focuses on affordability and planning.

Nearly 7,000 of Karbon’s homes are in rural communities, housing about 16,000 people (see the map below).

All these places are very different with different challenges and opportunities.

In many areas, there is a shortage of affordable homes. Council homes have been lost through Right to Buy and in some places, there are a lot of second and holiday homes.

New affordable homes give local economies a boost. If young, economically active people are not retained or attracted to rural areas, then more essential services will close (e.g. shops, schools, pubs, post offices, banks).

Building homes in rural (rather than in urban) areas generally costs more as land is often more expensive. We would like to see the Government supporting Homes England to deliver a rural house building programme and make long-term, large scale funding available for the regeneration and renewal of existing affordable housing.

Newer affordable homes are more energy efficient than existing housing and help to reduce fuel poverty; improving health and wellbeing and reducing pressure on public services such as the NHS.

Understandably many landowners want to sell to the highest bidder i.e. they can get more money from selling to a developer rather than a housing association building housing for the needs of average and lower wage earners. Instead of the landowner retaining all the uplift in value associated with a sale, we believe it should be captured to benefit the community.

All house builders and place-shapers need to listen to and work with local people to understand what they want and ensure they take account of local needs, priorities and circumstances. Involving local people in the design, quality and style of places can reduce local opposition to new housing.

A shortage of affordable housing, associated infrastructure and support services is at the root of the problem, preventing many rural communities from prospering.  We will continue to provide essential support for councils and communities as house builders, place-shapers, agents of growth, guardians of the vulnerable and the homeless.

Phil Headley, Policy Analyst, Karbon Homes

Karbon is a housing association; we own or manage almost 30,000 properties across the North East of England and Yorkshire and develop more homes every year. We provide social rented, affordable, specialised, shared ownership and market rented homes, and also develop market sale homes to meet our customers’ aspirations. In June 2019 Inside Housing magazine published figures showing that Karbon Homes was one of the Top 50 Biggest Builders in 2018.

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