View more on these topics

Rural communities need affordable homes too, says Rooker

Countryside communities need their own version of an urban renaissance to prevent an affordable housing crisis, Housing, Planning and Regeneration Minister Jeff Rooker said last week.

Rising house prices and low wages have blighted rural communities in recent years. Migration from the countryside has continued as people – especially the young – have found themselves unable to get onto the property ladder.

Speaking at the Rural Affairs Forum, Jeff Rooker said: “I am a city boy by birth and upbringing but a countryside lover by choice. Behind the chocolate box image, communities in market towns and villages are really struggling. We are doing a lot to provide more affordable homes for these communities but we need to do more.

“Too many young people cannot afford to live in the village of their birth. This can have a terrible knock-on effect on the stability of communities. But it&#39s not just about houses.

“We have to reverse the policies which have led to the creation of dormitory towns and villages which are full of commuters. Providing more affordable homes needs to be underpinned by the sort of economic regeneration efforts that are starting to bear fruit in our towns and cities.”

The government expects to deliver 9,000 affordable homes in rural areas annually by 2003/04, including 3,000 in small rural settlements. To help achieve this the government has doubled the Housing Corporation&#39s Approved Development Programme in small rural settlements from 800 in 2000/1 to 1,600 in 2003/4.

Rooker stressed the need for a partnership between rural people and central government. He said: “Successful regeneration is about giving people the power to set their own priorities about what their community needs. It cannot be imposed by central government if it is to succeed. Westminster, dominated by urban dwellers, should not dictate the details of the rural agenda, but show it listens to rural dwellers.

“This Rural Forum is an excellent opportunity to explore the challenges facing the countryside today. As a countryside lover and former MAFF Minister I&#39m under no illusions that the countryside has had a really tough time in the last few of years.

“No one benefits from a countryside that doesn&#39t thrive. The time for a rural renaissance is long overdue.”


John Stewart elected as CIB president

John Stewart FCIB, deputy group chief executive of Barclays, took over from Ian Harley as president of the Chartered Institute of Bankers (CIB) at the recent AGM. With 25-year&#39s experience in the financial services industry at the Woolwich, Stewart has been a key driver in developing innovation within the bank. He was instrumental in developing […]

Big freeze lasts all year, but cut is imminent, says Charcol

Ray Boulger of Charcol comments on yesterday&#39s base rate freeze, which leaves the base rate on hold for a whole year at 4%. Boulger says: “Base rate was widely tipped to be cut yesterday, particularly with the Federal Reserve announcement on Wednesday, but the decision was always going to be a close one. Despite this […]

Training & Competence conference 2002-03

This year&#39s annual Taxbriefs Training & Competence conference has been devised to analyse how T&C is working in practice, a year after N2. It is essential that all those responsible for training & competence fully understand the implications of the shortly-to-be-unveiled FSA examination regime. This conference will be one of the earliest opportunities to learn […]

Bank of England holds rates at 4%

The Bank of England&#39s monetary policy committee has left UK interest rates on hold at 4%. Pundits say sluggish economic growth overseas and a weak UK manufacturing sector had supported the case for a rate reduction. But strong house price growth and consumer borrowing must have raised fears that a cut in interest rates would […]


News and expert analysis straight to your inbox

Sign up