More Than 2,000 Villages Overlooked for Affordable Homes, Says CLA

More Than 2,000 Villages Overlooked for Affordable Homes, Says CLA

PR Newswire

LONDON, November 19, 2018

LONDON, November 19, 2018 /PRNewswire/ --

More than 2,000 villages are missing out on new affordable homes because they are classified as unsuitable for growth by the local planning process. 

According to new research by the CLA of 70 Local Plans from the most rural local authorities, 2,154 villages across England are judged to be unsustainable. This means housing allocation, including the delivery of affordable homes in these communities is either highly restricted or not permitted, further exacerbating the rural housing crisis.

Cornwall tops the list of areas with the most villages deemed unsustainable at 213, followed by Wiltshire at 168 and Central Lincolnshire with 132.

The CLA has also analysed how 50 local authorities use a settlement hierarchy when deciding where new development will be allocated in a Local Plan. The hierarchy ranks villages by scoring them against a range of services and amenities but the CLA's research revealed that just 18% of local authorities factor in broadband when assessing the sustainability of rural settlements. This is despite the range of services digital connectivity can facilitate, whether grocery shopping online or ordering prescriptions.

Sustainable Villages - making rural communities fit for the future published today (19 November) argues that planning criteria must be updated to reflect how people access services in the 21st century and encourages local authorities to be more proactive in identifying the housing needs of small rural communities.

CLA President Tim Breitmeyer said: "Sustainable development is not just for towns and cities. Finding and promoting sustainable solutions for rural communities is vital to the long-term vitality of the countryside.

"Current practices mean small settlements are dependent on very proactive local authorities to meet their needs. Although Cornwall tops the list of the most unsustainable villages, it is in fact an excellent example of a local authority actively addressing the needs of small rural communities despite the classification. Other rural local authorities should follow this lead and use all the mechanisms available to deliver affordable housing.

"Updating rural planning policy to include connectivity in sustainability assessments means English villages will not be trapped in analogue when the rest of the world is in the digital age and can access much of the housing they desperately need."

The report also calls on the Government to step in to address the housing needs of those communities cut off from the Local Plan by requiring a housing needs assessment in villages not allocated any housing.

Mr Breitmeyer said: "Without more opportunities for young people to remain in the local area these small communities face an uncertain future. We want people to be able to live and work in the countryside but they are being held back by a lack of affordable homes. Mandatory housing needs assessments will improve our understanding of the rural housing crisis and will help towards building desperately needed homes in the right areas."

Click here to read Sustainable Villages - making rural communities fit for the future


1.  Top 10 areas identified by the CLA with the most unsustainable villages:

    Cornwall                      213
    Wiltshire                     168
    Central Lincolnshire          132
    South Oxfordshire             102
    East Riding of Yorkshire      101
    South Worcestershire           97
    Kings Lynn & West Norfolk      84
    South Northamptonshire         82
    Bassetlaw                      77
    Huntingdonshire                75

2.  An unsustainable settlement is one that ranks towards the bottom of a settlement hierarchy as it is not judged to have the necessary level of services to warrant a housing allocation in the Local Plan.

It is therefore either denied any development or has significant limitations on the type of development that can take place in the settlement (e.g. only infilling or windfall sites permitted).

Settlements that have had their settlement boundaries removed are also classed as unsustainable due to the restrictions this places on development.

3.  26 of out of the 70 mostly rural local authorities surveyed by the CLA do not list their villages deemed as 'unsustainable' in their Local Plan so the total number is likely to be significantly higher than those identified by the CLA. In the case of the 2,154 villages, both housing allocations via the Local Plan and economic development are either highly restrictive or not permissible.

4.  The CLA analysed the services assessed by 50 rural local authorities when compiling settlement hierarchies. The table below shows the services assessed as well as the percentage of local authorities that include the particular service when assessing sustainability.

                    % of Local Authorities
                      include service in
      Service             hierarchy

    Post Office              98%
    Primary School           96%
    Food Shop                96%
    GP                       96%
    Meeting Place/Village
    Hall                     94%
    Pub                      92%
    Bus Service              92%
    Library                  86%
    Secondary school         78%
    Recreation space         72%
    Other shops              62%
    Employment               62%
    Sports Facilities        54%
    Banks                    48%
    Cafe/Restaurant/Takeaway 44%
    Petrol Station           44%
    Pharmacy                 42%
    Pre-School               38%
    Garage                   22%
    Population               22%
    Broadband                18%
    Specialist care
    facilities               10%
    Telephone Box             2%

5.  CLA members own or manage more than 10 million acres of rural land across England and Wales

As a membership organisation, the CLA supports landowners by advising them on how best to protect and maximise their asset: the land. We are dedicated to supporting landowners and their businesses. Our success is measured by how effectively we do that. We have a team of experts in London and a regional structure able to give local support.

We have been looking after the interests of our members, as well as promoting the positive aspects of land ownership, land management and rural business activities for the past 100 years. CLA members own or manage approximately half the rural land in England and Wales, and the resulting expertise puts us in a unique position to formulate policies and lobby effectively.

For more information about the CLA, visit: or follow us on Twitter @CLAtweets

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