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Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Affordable Rural Housing
The hot topic of the day. The long-awaited report from the Commission on Affordable Rural Housing has come out and has been all over the media today. If you haven't read it, the whole thing can be downloaded here. the main headlines: we need to be building 11,000 affordable homes a year in villages and small towns, 30,000 affordable homes a year altogether in rural areas, rural exception sites should be exempt from paying a planning gain supplement, and Natoinal Park authorities should take on some of the moral and economic responsibility for building affordable rural homes.

I feel that my head is too deeply in this debate (I'm in the middle of completing a speculative project about low-impact new sustainable communities in the countryside) that I can hardly comment. There's nothing so surprising about these findings, as is usual, but it is how this new housing takes physical shape, and what kind of future it embodies in terms of social structures, working patterns, economies and ecologies, that matters.

I'd like to see a real debate about what kind of visionary, radical new futures for the countryside might be possible, which goes beyond numbers of houses and the price of petrol. Because in case no-one noticed, the countryside is in a kind of crisis in more ways than one and just building more houses ain't going to solve it in the long term. Equally, according to the State of the Cities report, we all want to go and live in the countryside - so what kind of lifestyle is it that we are all craving, and how can we plan for our dreams to be fulfilled?

Anyway, here's more comment on the report from the Housing Corporation, Adam Smith Institute guy with his own pet version of how to un-plan the countryside.

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