The biggest news for the rural property world this week has been George Osborne’s and the Environment Secretary, Elizabeth Truss’s announcements of the new Rural Productivity Plan.
According to Government figures, rural England is experiencing a net internal inward migration of 60,000 people a year, which bucks the worldwide trend of net migration to cities. This does make you think where an additional 60,000 people a year will live – history dictates that urbanisation works, and seemingly provides a better standard of living for those who choose to make the pilgrimage to cities. Not to worry, the Chancellor has thought about this and has announced changes to the planning system, while remaining conscious of the fact that the Conservatives ‘will always want to protect our green belt’, and acknowledging that the current lack of housing in rural areas is a scandal. As part of the Government’s comprehensive plan for devolution, these planning reforms will make it easier for villages to establish their own neighbourhood plans, creating the ability to allocate land for a small number of new homes and starter homes. This could be a rather contentious point in some villages and feuding may ensue. The intention is to give villages the chance to thrive and provide enough housing for the existing resident’s families who are priced out of the market. Could it be that simple, given that the free market may take hold and larger more expensive dwellings could be developed? We will have to wait to see what materialises.
Not only has the planning system been targeted, there is a real aim to increase business growth, productivity and employment levels within the rural economy. The Chancellor wishes to increase the economic potential of all parts of the UK to move away from the One Nation Economy led by the City of London and its financial sector. The rural economy already is worth £210 billion a year and is set to receive billions of pounds a year to fund infrastructure that will connect rural businesses to town and cities in the UK and across the globe. The goal is to provide 95% of UK premises with reliable super-fast broadband by 2017 and better mobile coverage ensuring 98% indoor coverage for 4G by 2017. Not only is connectivity on the agenda, other essential infrastructure will be funded, such as: improving rural transport connections, ensuring fairer funding for rural schools and work with schools to raise standards.
Finally, in ‘bittersweet’ news, Taylor Wimpey is in the process of redeveloping the former Cadbury’s factory in Keynsham, Bristol for residential purposes, but it has been revealed that a clause within the sales contract did not grant permission to use famous chocolate brand names for street names. So long for the all awaited Crunchie Crescent and Whispa Way.