The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) has today (Monday, March 7) called on the government to overhaul its approach to housing in rural communities.

According to the association, which represents over 28,000 rural businesses and landowners in England and Wales, the current 'broken planning system is stifling rural prosperity'.

“Fundamental flaws in today’s planning system are letting rural communities down," said CLA president Mark Tufnell.

"For too long, its unnecessary red tape has held back the initiation of projects, stifling investment, innovation and entrepreneurship in the countryside."

The CLA believes that a possible solution to this is to develop an approach that allows for a small number of homes to be built in a large number of villages. This will, the CLA said, support local employment and strengthen the social fabric of these areas by ensuring pubs, shops and schools can stay open. 

"For rural areas to thrive, there needs to be an adequate, available, and diverse supply of homes, which includes different tenure types of varying sizes," Tufnell continued.

"Without it, we prevent young families from continuing to live in their community, key workers from being based near their places of work, and the elderly from downsizing.

"Viable solutions are available. We call on the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government to listen to the changing needs of rural communities and deliver on his ‘levelling up’ promises.

"We must make meaningful changes to our planning system – beginning with making policy changes to allow a greater number of small-scale developments across our villages," the president said.

The association has made a series of recommendations and published these in its recent report 'Sustainable Communities: the role of housing in strengthening the rural economy'.

In brief, these recommended changes are:

  • Smaller number of houses in a larger number of villages;
  • Reform local authority sustainability assessments;
  • Mandatory housing needs assessments across all rural settlements;
  • Extension of permitted development rights;
  • Inheritance tax exemptions.