Call for rural affordable homes

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​LOCAL MSP Nigel Don has called for the construction industry and local planning authorities to consider new way of providing affordable homes in rural communities, including easing planning restrictions on sites near small villages and towns.

Speaking after an informal meeting with experts in planning, construction, architecture and affordable housing, Mr Don said: “Buying a house in Aberdeenshire is becoming ever more difficult for young families, and the rented accommodation on offer is extremely expensive. In Angus there is a shortage of affordable homes to rent.

“Welfare benefit changes are causing hardship for single people under 35 who can no longer afford to rent privately, and we have the new ‘bedroom tax’ on the way which will turn a spare bedroom into a very expensive luxury.

“One answer is to build more affordable houses in rural areas, and I asked a small group of very knowledgeable people to spend a morning discussing the best way forward. I asked them to tell me what they think are the barriers to progress, and what we can do to move forward.”

Mr Don also said there was general agreement that there is a need to free up small pockets of land in the countryside for new housebuilding, ideally these would be on the edge of villages where new families could support local shops and schools and contribute to community life.