Rural Derbyshire council asks Government for powers to build more affordable homes

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A Derbyshire council is set to ask the Government for powers to see more affordable homes built in rural areas drastically short of attainable housing.

At the moment, Derbyshire Dales District Council can only ask developers building 10 houses or more to include affordable housing as part of their proposed schemes.

In the most rural areas of Derbyshire, much of which falls in the Dales, proposed developments are rarely the required size to ask for affordable housing.

This is largely due to the cost and difficulties of building in more rural areas, where there is often little to no infrastructure in place to support housing – including bus routes, internet connections and sewage links.

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As a result, developers are more likely to build middling to large schemes either in towns or bordering towns.

The district council is now set to apply to the Government for a “rural area designation” for almost all of the parishes in the Dales, excluding its towns and larger villages, under the Section 157 of the Housing Act 1985.

This could cover all of the parishes in the Dales, excluding: Ashbourne, Darley Dale, Matlock Bath, Matlock, Northwood and Tinkersley, Tansley, and Wirksworth.

In short, this would allow the council to ask developers for affordable housing in the most rural parts of the district.

It would be able to ask developers building five or more homes in most of the Dales to include affordable housing as part of their proposed schemes.

A joint report from Steve Capes, the council’s director of regeneration, and Rob Cogings, the authority’s director of housing, says: “Rural area designation will provide the opportunity to delivery rural exception affordable housing to those residents in need, rather than First Homes which are unlikely to be as affordable to residents of Derbyshire Dales.”

First Homes are the Government’s new form of affordable housing, launched last year at a Derbyshire development.

These are market homes which are sold with a discount of at least 30 per cent of their normal sale price to people who live or have a local connection to the area in which the house has been built.

The homes must be discounted to a price of £250,000 maximum and eligible residents must have a household income of less than £80,000.

Mr Capes and Mr Cogings write: “Because the value of a discounted First Home is based on the open market value of property, even with a substantial discount applied the values will still be significant.

“In addition, there is a danger that in adopting a substantial discount, there is not enough profit for the developer once they have paid for the cost of building the property.”

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