Only 1 in 6 rural councils have made use of key affordable housing option

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Rural Exception Sites were introduced in 1991 to enable the development of affordable homes on underdeveloped land that would otherwise be restricted for residential development. 

The sites have the potential to provide much needed affordable housing amidst the escalating rural housing crisis. In 2022 rural rough sleeping increased by 24% and 300,000 people were on rural social housing waiting lists.

Out of 145 rural local authorities, only 25 used Rural Exception Sites to deliver affordable homes between 2021 and 2022, resulting in 546 homes being built. However, nearly 3,000 affordable homes could have been developed if the vast majority of rural councils had utilised rural expectation sites in the time period, presenting a massive, missed opportunity.

The research also looked at some of the reasons why Rural Exception Sites haven’t been fully utilised and outlines a number of recommendations to help successfully deliver affordable homes in rural areas.

To tackle these challenges, the report lays out several strategic recommendations for local planning authorities, policy makers and housing providers. You can read more from ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England) here and more from the National Housing Federation here.