Planning and Housing

16.02.18

Counties urge government to step in amid rocketing house prices

House prices in county areas have risen by three times the rate of those in London over the last year, prompting the County Councils Network (CCN) to call for greater powers to rural councils.

The latest pricing figures show an increase of 5.9% in 2017, compared to 2% in the capital and an average of 4.9% in metropolitan areas and cities.

The average county house price now stands at £262,000 – around £100,000 more than the equivalent average in Britain’s cities.

CCN officials have urged Whitehall to offer new powers, allowing planning reform so that county councils can offer planning permission in the same way that districts currently.

Cllr Philip Atkins, CCN Spokesman on housing, planning & infrastructure, commented: “These latest figures reinforce our concerns that housing in shire counties is now becoming increasingly unaffordable to millions of people.

“It is only by building more homes, more quickly, that we can address the affordability challenge. To address this, the government have rightly prioritised infrastructure investment and planning reform, but in shire counties these reforms don’t go far enough.

“We want to work with district councils to deliver the homes this country desperately needs, but this requires a more collaborative approach. Moving towards strategic planning and coordinated infrastructure provision on the county scale will enable us to overcome the current fragmented approach to housing and planning in rural areas.”

The CCN has also argued that infrastructure funding is skewed away from rural areas and the system of developer contributions – which funds affordable homes and infrastructure – is not fit for purpose.

County councils have no powers over funding streams such as the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) and Section 106 agreements, which are meant to contribute towards new affordable housing and the construction of roads, schools and community facilities.

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