George Osborne: Tories will build discount homes in the countryside

Date: 19 Aug 2015
By: Peter Dominiczak19 Aug 2015

The Chancellor warns that the lack of housing in the countryside is a "scandal" and vows to ensure that children are not forced out of villages because of the lack of affordable homes.

England is experiencing a "flight from city to country" as more than 60,000 people a year move to rural areas, George Osborne says as he announces plans to help villages build discounted homes.

Declaring that the Tories are "the party of rural Britain", the Chancellor warns that the lack of housing in the countryside is a "scandal" and vows to ensure that children are not forced out of villages because of the lack of affordable homes.

Writing in The Daily Telegraph alongside Elizabeth Truss, the Environment Secretary, Mr Osborne says that he will reform planning laws in order to "make it easier for villages to establish their own neighbourhood plan and allocate land for a small number of new homes".

He pledges to continue to protect the green belt but says that the reforms will allow villages to build "starter homes" which can then be bought at a 20 per cent discount by first-time buyers with links to the area.

The ministers say that the Government will "make it easier for people to stay in their rural communities and for newcomers to settle there too".

According to figures released by the Government, rural areas of the country are experiencing "net internal inward migration" of more than 60,000 a year.

No other developed economy in the world is seeing a similar social trend as they typically see rural to urban migration, the ministers say.

George Osborne says that the Tories are "the party of rural Britain"

"The flight from city to country is driven by all sorts of factors: a desire for more space for children to grow and play or an 'escape to the country' in retirement, for example," Mr Osborne and Ms Truss write.

"But there is another reason more people are able to base themselves in our beautiful regions and enjoy the high quality of life they offer - one that we believe is critical.

Improvements in information technology mean a broader than ever choice of career for those in rural areas. Simply, our rural areas are becoming ever more economically diverse and dynamic.

"Long gone are the days when those in a village had to choose between a job in the pub, the shop or on the farm, or commute into a town or city."

The ministers attack Labour's failure to prioritise rural areas when in office, saying that the party "has never understood the millions of people who live in the countryside, or even pretended to be interested in them".

"For the Conservatives, the party of rural Britain, our determination to build one nation means investing in all parts of the country, building a resilient, vibrant economy that promotes growth across the country, in every town and city and every rural area too," the add.

Under the "starter homes" scheme, announced ahead of the general election, houses will be built on brownfield land and reserved for sale only to young people buying their first homes.

The discount will be offered on homes up to £250,000 outside London and £450,000 inside London.

However, Mr Osborne and Ms Truss say that this will now be extended to certain villages on the green belt.

"We'll always want to protect our green belt and beautiful natural environments, but the lack of housing in rural areas is a scandal," the write. "Those living in villages want to see them thrive, want to maintain enough