THE Government’s drive for more house building could help with rural housing struggles – but landowners need to be aware of the effects of the new reforms, says a professional body.

Jeremy Moody, secretary and adviser to the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers, says concerns over the availability of housing – particularly in rural areas – have grown rapidly over the past few years. However, actions discussed by the Government could provide some remedies as well as some problems, he added.

"The autumn Budget not only offered more financial support for house building but also mentioned a number of interventions to promote building at a faster rate – notably around transport hubs and under-used land in cities and towns," said Mr Moody.

The Government has pledged £44 billion towards housing with capital funding, loans and guarantees, with the aim of building 300,000 houses a year. However, with reforms to planning also on the horizon to ensure that more land is available for housing, landowners need to be aware of potential implications, warned Mr Moody.

"While many of the plans focus around cities and high-demand areas like the South East, rural areas may see opportunities that could support the local economy.”

Local authorities are expected to bring forward 20 per cent of their housing supply as small sites, he explained. It is also possible that planning permission may be granted on land outside of the Local Plan if a high proportion of the homes are offered for discounted sale to first-time buyers, or for affordable rent.

"As we have seen in the Environment Plan, the Government is committed to protecting the green belt, but there are plenty of areas where sensitive rural development could progress to meet local housing needs,” said Mr Moody.

"We now have the Government’s review on the gap between planning permissions granted and houses built. Should that review find land is being withheld for commercial reasons, government action could include more powers for compulsory purchase.”