NW affordable housing safeguarded by new provisions

Michael Hunt

Housing Minister Ian Austin has announced rural homes in thousands of newly designated "protected" areas within the region will be safeguarded for first time buyers under new provisions.

In rural areas in the North West, where replacing affordable housing is difficult, new shared ownership properties will have to remain shared ownership to ensure future buyers also have a chance to step on to the property ladder.

The Government said in some rural areas it is incredibly hard to replace homes which become fully owned and are subsequently sold on the open market.

Now under new laws in the Housing and Regeneration Act 2008, more than 13,000 small rural settlements will be designated as protected areas across England including Cheshire East, Cheshire West and Chester, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Halton, Lancashire, Merseyside and Warrington.

These will be areas where land to build new affordable homes is severely limited or where it is not possible to buy existing properties for shared ownership because of the small size of the housing market.

Shared ownership properties in these protected areas will be retained by either restricting to 80% the share owners can buy or allowing owners to acquire up to 100% but ensuring the provider, for example a housing association, buys the property back to retain it for future purchasers.

The provisions allow organisations and companies, other then housing associations, to provide shared ownership properties, while benefiting from the same protections as housing associations with leasehold properties that owners wish to staircase up to full ownership.

Minister Austin also boosted the Governments support for Community Land Trusts to help ensure more are set up to provide much needed affordable housing.

The Government has already supported CLT development by providing funding through the Homes and Communities Agency and by carrying out a successful pilot study, including one in Chipping, Lancashire

CLTs are private bodies that own or control land and assets for the benefit of the community. This mainly involves providing shared ownership or social rented homes on land provided by the CLT. Support for these trusts is hoped to go even further towards helping enable more grass roots development.

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