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Landowners seek incentives to tackle housing crisis

Words: Huw Morris
New rural housing / Shutterstock_425872609

Landowners should be encouraged to build and manage their own affordable housing in rural areas to tackle the housing crisis, says a leading countryside campaigner.

Ross Murray, president of the CLA, which represents land, property and business owners in rural England and Wales, said his members are best placed to deliver affordable homes because of their economic role within communities. But he argued there are not enough incentives to encourage landowners to come forward.

“The capacity of landowners to help alleviate the acute shortage in homes in rural areas is an untapped resource,” he said. “Many landowners already manage large residential portfolios and affordable housing is a part of that.

Landowners have strong multi-generational ties to their communities and are often local employers, they wish to sustain that community for future generations, and long-term investment in affordable housing is an excellent way of doing this.

“However, it is important to recognise that developing market houses for sale is a more profitable enterprise than providing affordable housing to rent so there needs to be a range of incentives to encourage landowners to invest for the longer term.”

Murray added that high house prices in rural areas have a significant impact on the rural economy.

“Job creation is stifled, perpetuating low wages because young people cannot afford to live and work in the countryside. We do not want to build all over our beautiful countryside, but we want to see incremental growth in existing villages. This can help sustain local services and stop these areas from becoming dormitory zones for commuters and holiday homes.”

Incentives the CLA wants to see include allowing landowners nomination rights for who lives in an affordable property they have built.

The CLA also calls for extending capital gains rollover relief when a landowner sells land as a rural exception site development.