On 20th September 2017 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, was a signatory to a letter to The Times newspaper about affordable rural housing:
Sir, A thriving countryside needs more good quality, genuinely affordable homes (“Country Unfair”, leading article, Sep 19). Only one in ten homes in rural areas is classed as affordable, compared with one in five in urban areas. The proportion of new affordable homes is shrinking, and rural areas face a significant shortfall over the next five years.
The government has effectively left developers in charge of providing almost all new housing, yet the housebuilding industry has proved incapable of delivering the affordable homes that local communities both plan for and need.
A few simple reforms would enable these homes to be built. Councils should be able to enforce targets on the design, quality and proportion of affordable homes, and developers should be required to publish the viability studies they use to renege on earlier commitments. The government should also restore the right of councils to demand some affordable homes on all sites, including developments of under ten homes. Finally, ministers should spell out how local authorities can meet local needs, not just market demand.
Tom Fyans, director of campaigns and policy, Campaign to Protect Rural England;
Polly Neate, CEO, Shelter;
Sue Chalkley, CEO, Hastoe Housing Association;
David Orr, CEO, National Housing Federation;
Adrian Maunders, CEO, English Rural;
Martin Collett, chairman, Rural Housing Alliance;
the Right Rev Dr Alan Smith, Bishop of St Albans;
Jo Lavis, rural housing expert
(via The Times)