UK Government

Communities and Local Government: Government boost for more rural homes

Press Release   •   Feb 22, 2010 08:59 GMT

Housing Minister John Healey and Rural Affairs Minister Lord Davies have today named 36 rural councils that will benefit from expert support to help design and plan up to 10,000 new homes. A large proportion of these homes will be affordable for local people, giving a boost to rural businesses and helping village schools, shops and pubs stay open.

It is the first time that rural councils have received dedicated funding to help design and plan new development that will support the local needs of rural communities. The councils receiving funding were selected through a planning and design competition.

The 36 councils with the best ideas for rural towns and villages will share £1m funding for expert advice to build 10,000 high quality homes that will help local people stay where they want to live, and give a boost to local businesses by ensuring local staff can live close by.

The £1m fund jointly provided by Communities and Local Government and Defra will provide expert assistance and training on masterplanning and urban design. The councils that have been successful are receiving funds ranging from £4,000 to £70,000 to support work on projects, including:

• £70,000 to develop a masterplan for 1000 homes, a school, businesses and recreation space in North Northallerton;
• £30,000 to prepare a masterplan to redevelop the historic Bolton Copperworks site near the village of Froghall, and kickstart the regeneration of the Churnet Valley;
• £50,000 for masterplanning expertise to redevelop the Churchfields Estate west of Salisbury, providing 1,100 homes, a neighbourhood centre, a primary school, open space and land for businesses. The site will deliver much needed homes for the area of which around 40 per cent will be affordable.

John Healey said:

"We know a lack of affordable homes for local people is acute in rural communities. People have to be able to stay in the countryside for rural areas to prosper. That is why we’re backing rural councils with funding for the skills to provide homes young families can afford, where they want to live.

"Local authorities should make the most of the expertise on offer to design and plan for affordable homes for local people that are built to a high standard, and are linked to new opportunities for jobs so rural towns and villages can thrive."

Successful councils will develop masterplans for new neighbourhoods and existing areas of towns, making the most of current buildings and creating more attractive and vibrant places for people to live.

Defra Minister Lord Davies of Oldham said:

"Available houses at affordable prices are essential for a rural community. The support from this fund and the expert help available to the successful authorities will help build those houses as well as making sure that services and jobs are located where they are most needed for rural areas to secure a thriving future and strong local economies."

Winning bids include training to deliver the highest standards of design that will make it easier for people to work from home in rural communities, and ensure new businesses, shops and schools are located near where people live.

Winning projects will share best practice with other rural regions of the country, building capacity and skills that will bring forward high quality rural development across the country.

The masterplan funding is the latest stage in the Governments plans to help rural communities thrive by providing more affordable housing and greater freedom to develop strong local economies.

Matthew Taylor, who produced the Taylor Review into rural housing and economies said:

"This announcement is another step in implementing my recommendations in "Living Working countryside". It is about sustaining rural communities with well designed affordable homes meeting local needs. The experience gained from these rural community projects, backed today by a million pound Government investment, will help shape a more sustainable future for rural England."

Notes to editors

1. The £1m support will be spent over two years (2009/10 – 2010/11) and is being funded by Communities and Local Government (CLG) and the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

2. A 'masterplan' is a long-term, coordinated strategy for the development of an area. The masterplanning competition was run by the Homes Communities Agency (HCA), Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE), CLG and Defra. Ongoing project management of the fund will be overseen by HCA and CABE.

3. Each region has been allocated at least £50,000 for masterplanning projects, these include:

NORTH EAST

Northumberland County Council
Masterplan for Berwick Spittal Point  - £50,000

Preparing a masterplan to redevelop the Spittal point area so that new homes are matched with the right services to support the community.

NORTH WEST

Eden District Council
A strategic Masterplan for Penrith - £50,000

Establishing a masterplan for the historic market town of Penrith that identifies the right areas for new homes and employment.

YORKSHIRE AND THE HUMBER

Hambleton District Council
Masterplan and Brief for North Northallerton- £70,000

Expertise to develop a Masterplan  for a 50 hectare site near Northallerton that will include up to a 1000 new homes, a school and for space for new businesses and for recreation.

EAST MIDLANDS

North Kesteven District Council
Sleaford Masterplan - £50,000

Expertise to produce a Masterplan for Sleaford to look at how the market town serves and interacts with its rural hinterland.

WEST MIDLANDS

Staffordshire Moorlands District Council
Masterplan for Bolton Copperworks, Froghall - £30,000

Preparing a masterplan to redevelop the historic Bolton Copperworks site near the village of Froghall, and kickstart the regeneration of the Churnet Valley

EAST OF ENGLAND

Breckland District Council
A Masterplan for Attleborough - £50,000

Expertise to develop a masterplan for Attleborough that ensures new homes maintain the character of the rural market town and new services support surrounding rural settlements.

SOUTH WEST

Wiltshire County Council
Masterplan for Churchfields - £50,000

Masterplanning expertise to redevelop the Churchfields Estate west of Salisbury, providing 1,100 homes, a neighbourhood centre, a primary school, open space and land for businesses. The site will deliver much needed homes for the area of which around 40% will be affordable.

SOUTH EAST

Shepway District Council
Strategic Masterplanning within the Sellindge area - £50,000

Work with the local community and stakeholders to look at the potential for new homes in the Sellindge area, near to the Channel Tunnel Rail link at Folkestone.

4. The remainder of the fund has been shared between 38 additional projects across the country, a full list of the winning projects can be found at: www.communities.gov.uk/publications/planningandbuilding/masterplanningfund

5. The Government recognises that there are real issues of affordability in rural areas. The latest figures from the Commission for Rural Communities (CRC) in March 2009 show that the lowest house prices in rural areas are 7.4 times the lowest annual incomes, compared to 5.5 times the lowest annual incomes in urban areas. The average house is now over £40,000 more expensive in rural than in urban areas.

6. The Matthew Taylor Implementation Plan published today can be found at can be found at: www.communities.gov.uk/publications/planningandbuilding/taylorimplementationplan

7. Matthew Taylor, MP for Truro and St Austell, conducted a review on how land use and planning can better support rural business and deliver affordable housing. His report Living Working Countryside was published in July 2008. A copy of the report can be found at:  www.communities.gov.uk/publications/planningandbuilding/livingworkingcountryside

8. A consultation on proposals to incentivise landowners to bring forward additional land for rural affordable housing closed on 18 February 2010. Final proposals will be published shortly.

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