Charity labels housing change “slap in the face” for hard-working families

Pubs minister Brandon Lewis MP

Pubs minister Brandon Lewis MP - Credit: Archant

Changes to housing policy announced by the Government will have a devastating effect on affordable homes for rural families, according to a charity based in Littleport.

Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE) spoke out after Housing Minister, Brandon Lewis, announced the removal of Section 106 agreements from sites of fewer than 10 homes.

These agreements – known as planning obligations - require developers to provide contributions, such as affordable homes or playgrounds, to offset negative impacts caused by construction and development.

ACRE had warned the minister that small-scale developers may simply stop building affordable homes if the changes went ahead.

The charity – the national voice for England’s 38 rural community councils - had called on the Government to exempt all sites in communities with a population under 3,000.

ACRE’s Nick Chase said: “This decision by the Housing Minister will have a

devastating effect on affordable housing for rural communities up and down the country.

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“Despite warnings from housing associations and other rural organisations, the minister has gone ahead with a policy change that could reduce the number of rural affordable homes on small sites to nil over the coming years.

“This decision takes power away from local communities who should have the right to say what type of housing they want in their area. This is a real slap in the face for hard-working families on low incomes.

“They will now find it almost impossible to afford a house in their community and may be forced to move if rents continue to rise.

“There will, no doubt, be an increase in housing in rural areas as a result of these changes – but we expect to see developers only building housing at market prices to obtain the greatest profits.

“We’re hugely disappointed that Mr Lewis has chosen to ignore our fears.”