The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), representing 23,000 UK planners, welcomes the Government's response to the Matthew Taylor report on Rural Economy and Affordable Housing and supports the need to reset planning and economic policies for rural areas to ensure much greater access to affordable housing and as a vital way of helping to secure truly sustainable futures for local communities.
The Government needs however to quickly learn important lessons from the Eco-Towns initiative by ensuring that competition proposals it has announced for developing new, high quality sustainable expansions for rural market towns do not bypass proper community involvement.
Martin Willey, RTPI President said: \"Rural areas are as important to the RTPI as urban areas. The proposal for competitions is exciting however, if this is taken forward, it will be critical that the Government learns lessons from its Eco-Towns initiative and ensures that proposals are developed working with local communities, through the local plan-making process.\"
The RTPI recognises the importance of developing a plan to enable affordable housing provisions for rural areas, through proposed Government measures such as providing rural \"exemption\" sites for those priced out of the rural market. However, the RTPI maintains this approach should not act as a charter to concrete over the countryside. New planning policies must deliver affordable, well built and attractive housing in sustainable neighbourhoods through a process which is inclusive and open. These policies must benefit local communities on an economic, social and environmental level allowing them to flourish now and in the future.