Now under new powers in the Housing and Regeneration Act 2008, more than 13,000 small rural settlements will be designated "protected" areas across England. These will be areas where land to build new affordable homes is severely limited or where it is not possible to buy existing properties for shared ownership because of the small size of the housing market.
Shared ownership properties in these "protected" areas will be retained by either restricting to 80% the share owners can buy or allowing owners to acquire up to 100% but ensuring the provider, for example a housing association, buys the property back to retain it for future purchasers.
Austin said: "We are determined to help provide more homes in rural areas and help first-time buyers on to the property ladder.
"These new measures will not only help protect affordable rural homes but also boost the number of properties available.
"We simply can’t afford to lose shared ownership homes in areas where they are difficult to replace which is why these new provisions on ownership are so important."
Have your say on this story using the comment section below