David Williams, Labour's Parliamentary Candidate for Crewe and Nantwich, welcomed the Housing & Planning Minister John Healey MP to Crewe and Nantwich where he announced new powers for Parish Councils to boost affordable rural housing.
David said, “John was with me today visiting residents of Crewe and Nantwich when he made the announcement. Cheshire East Council is delivering only 43% of the affordable homes that the national housing charity ‘Shelter’ believe are necessary. Recent figures show that Cheshire East is one of 216 local councils that are delivering less than half of the number of homes that they have identified as being needed.”
David added, “John’s announcement will give a boost to rural communities with proposals to give a special planning power to Parish Councils to build new affordable homes. The proposals will be consulted on this summer and will allow a limited number of affordable homes to be built in rural villages without the need for individual planning applications, where the parish council has backed the new homes.”
The Housing & Planning Minister wants to extend ‘permitted development’ rights so that a maximum of 10-15 new affordable homes could be built when parish councils have set out clear evidence and design expectations. This means decisions on how many homes are required, what they look like and where they are built would be taken locally by those who are closest to what the local communities need and want.
New guidance on social housing allocations that was published in December has also strengthened the scope for local authorities to ensure that people living and working locally are given greater priority for affordable houses in rural parishes.
John Healey said, “There is a need for more affordable homes in rural communities, where the price of an average home is £40,000 higher than in towns and cities. My concern is to see new homes available at affordable rents, especially for local young people and their families who otherwise have little or no option but to leave the area. A handful of new homes can make huge differences to the life of rural villages and make local schools, pubs and shops more sustainable. My aim is to place more power with Parish Councils to see new homes built.”
He continued, “I propose to establish a permitted development freedom for Parish Councils to initiate the building of a small number of homes in their area without the need to gain planning permission from the local authority. This would help Parish Councils directly and swiftly to meet the need for affordable local homes in rural areas. It will give Parish Council the power to breathe new life into their villages and small towns. This would be a radical reform of the planning system and a significant new power and freedom for our most local elected councils.”
The new permitted development right will be made available to Parish and Town Councils in settlements of less than 3,000 people where the council identifies a registered social landlord as their development partner. Green Belt, Habitat Sites and other important designated protections will be retained.
David Williams commented, “The availability of affordable homes is vital to our local communities and even more so in the rural areas. Cheshire East Council commissioned independent experts to investigate the need for affordable housing. They said that 577 new affordable homes were needed to be built in Cheshire East each year but only 247 were built last year. I welcome the new proposals as they will go some way towards closing the deficit that Cheshire East Council has left. The lack of new homes in rural areas has created huge pressures that are now holding many rural communities back. More affordable homes will help rural towns and villages prosper and provide an essential boost to local businesses. With more opportunity to stay in their own communities, young people will be less likely to leave for cities in search of cheaper houses.”
Pictured, David and John Healey MP in Crewe today.