IPPR Rural Housing Policy Report

Hastoe has joint-funded a new piece of research on affordable rural housing, with a blueprint for Government on how to fix the rural housing crisis.

A new report, reveals scale of affordable housing challenge in the English countryside.

Rural communities need a new deal to deliver more affordable homes, as a new report from the IPPR, highlights the scale of the affordable housing crisis in the English countryside. The research, released on the first day of Rural Housing Week 2018, finds:

  • The average rural house price of £320,700 is more than £87,000 higher than the urban average excluding London (£233,600)
  • Rural housing is less affordable to local people than in most urban areas. A family with one child, earning one full-time and one part-time median wage in a mainly or largely rural area would spend 31 per cent of their income on rent, compared to 26 per cent or 19 per cent in most urban local authorities.
  • Between 2014 and 2038, the working age population in rural areas is projected to decline by 75,000 people while the population aged over 65 will grow by around 1.5 million. 


-.T The report calls for a new deal for rural communities on affordable housing which would ensure that the English countryside isn’t just able to survive but thrive. It recomends:

A new deal for rural communities. Local and combined authorities should enter into two-way negotiations with central government to develop devolution deals for rural areas. These deals could include:

  • a commitment to devolving funding for affordable housing
  • devolved powers over council tax to help tackle the problem of holiday and second homes
  • the discretion to repeal, suspend or reform the statutory Right to Buy policy in their areas


A rural community house building programme: The government should task and support Homes England with embarking on a significant Rural House Building Programme. Including

  • a rural affordable housing target for grant allocation
  • developing a specific rural grant to be administered by Homes England
  • the development of a rural living rent, based on local earnings at a sub-local authority level, to truly connect local earnings with rents.


Planning for new homes in rural communities: Land needs to be brought forward where it is needed at a price that means it can be developed for affordable housing. Measures should include:

  • setting an ‘upfront’ target in local plans for affordable housing including on sites of less than 10 units.
  • reform of planning policy to explicitly exempt rural areas from changes to the section 106 requirements which no longer require affordable housing commitments on sites of less than 10
  • ensure that restrictions on Entry Level Exception sites as proposed in the draft NPPF are restricted for use only in urban areas if they come to fruition
  • where a local plan does not set an upfront target, place a default 35 per cent target for affordable housing delivery on all sites, including those of less than 10, and 50 per cent on public land
  • reform the viability process in the NPPF to ensure that rural areas are not missing out on a supply of affordable housing in line with the recommendations made by Shelter and the CPRE in their report Viable Villages. 


Darren Baxter, Research Fellow at IPPR said:

“The high cost of housing in rural areas poses a threat to rural life. Without somewhere affordable to live young people will leave the countryside, services will close and villages will die out.

“An ambitious programme of rural house building could not only have benefits for individuals, but could benefit wider communities, halting the decline in rural life.”

Luke Murphy, Associate Director at IPPR said:

A lack of affordable housing is often only seen as an urban problem, but it is a critical issue in rural areas too where housing is less affordable than in most towns and cities.

“At the heart of this crisis is a huge shortage of affordable homes and the failure of successive governments to develop policies which meet the needs of rural areas.

“We are calling for a new deal on housing for rural communities which must include a new rural affordable homes programme, reform of the planning process to allow for the provision of affordable homes in villages and a commitment to put the needs of rural areas at the heart of government policymaking.”

You can read the full report - "A new rural settlement: Fixing the Affordable Housing Crisis in Rural England" - at this link. 

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