While the Federation supports the Tory proposals for the setting up of LHTs it says the 90% threshold is far too high. And says that recent opinion polling conducted on behalf of the organisation shows the majority of rural dwellers believe the level of local support required for new affordable housing should be far lower at around 50-70%.
In the poll of 800 rural dwellers across England, 54% said that a threshold of 50-70% support for affordable housing should be sufficient for the new homes to get the go-ahead, whereas just 4% said 90% was the right figure.
The Federation believes that the building of new homes in rural areas is crucial because of a growing rural housing crisis – with a lack of affordable homes in villages and market towns driving thousands of young people and families from the countryside to urban areas every year.
As a result of this process, many villages are increasingly becoming populated by older people, wealthy commuters and second home owners – with record numbers of services and amenities coming under threat because of a decline in their traditional customer bases.
The lack of lack of new homes in rural areas has led to a record number of 750,000 people putting their names on waiting lists for an affordable home in villages and market towns.
Federation Chief Executive David Orr said: "We believe the Tory proposal for LHTs could be an excellent way for ensuring the building of desperately needed affordable homes in rural areas – but we fear that a requirement for a 90% vote in favour of new homes will effectively provide a veto to a rump of local Nimbys.
"There will always be some people who oppose the idea of building any new homes and if the threshold for a vote in favour of new affordable housing is set as high as 90% then we believe that small groups of local Nimbys will virtually always be able to block the proposals."
Peter Moore, Director of Cornwall Rural Housing Association – the housing association which has pioneered the Community Land Trust model the LHT proposals are based on – said: "We’ve proved in Cornwall that we can use this model to produce affordable housing with community support. The Local Housing Trust proposals could enable other communities to benefit – but to make that happen, we need a lower support threshold and dedicated support for communities who want to do this."
Steve Cook, Chief Executive of the Havebury Housing Partnership, added: "I support an approach which better equips rural communities to be self-sustaining but a 90% vote in favour is far too high. Something closer to 50% would be much more realistic."
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