George Osborne detect plan for more village homes
August 20, 2015, 5:59 pm    

Chancellor George Osborne has said he wants to reform planning laws to make it easier for villages to build new homes to boost the rural economy.

Mr Osborne said such areas were an increasingly dynamic part of the economy, with 60,000 people moving from the city to the countryside each year.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, he said the lack of rural homes was a scandal.

Mr Osborne said he also wanted to improve telecommunications, transport and schools in rural areas.

Affordable homes

The chancellor wants to introduce the measures as part of a rural productivity plan, which will be unveiled later in the day.

This includes extending the government`s "starter homes" scheme, announced before the election for brownfield sites, to some villages.

The initiative offers young local first-time home buyers a 20% discount on the price of the property. As it stands, the discount will be offered on homes up to £250,000 outside London and £450,000 inside London.

Mr Osborne pledged to continue to protect the Green Belt but said he wanted to ensure that people`s children were not forced out of rural communities because of a lack of affordable homes.

He said the government would "make it easier for people to stay in their rural communities and for newcomers to settle there too".

`Enterprise zones`

He and Environment Secretary Liz Truss write in their joint newspaper editorial: "This government is determined to support the millions that already choose a rural life and those that are joining them.

"For rural areas, we want better internet and mobile phone communications, better transport, better schools, better skills, better housing, better business growth and better local government.

"And we`ll look at planning and regulatory constraints facing rural businesses. In a recent survey of rural businesses the main barrier to growth that most identified was planning restrictions.

"So for a start, we`ll review rules around agricultural buildings such as barns to allow rural businesses to expand more easily."

They add: "For the first time we`ll encourage rural areas to apply to become enterprise zones, and will work on how best to get superfast broadband to those that are successful.

"To expand the skilled workforce in the countryside, we are committing to triple the number of food and farming apprenticeships."

The ministers criticised Labour for failing to prioritise rural areas when in office, saying that the party "has never understood the millions of people who live in the countryside, or even pretended to be interested in them".


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