Thousands of villages not fit for new homes due to lack of broadband connectivity

A new study has found that over 2,000 villages across England have been classified as unsuitable for future development and affordable homes by local planning committees.

The Countryside Landowners Association (CLA), which represents individuals owning land, property and businesses, carried out an analysis of 70 local plans to find that 2,154 English villages were found to be unsustainable for growth, and required a reassessment of planning criteria.

One of the factors affecting sustainability was found to be the lack of reliable and quick broadband access, which the CLA noted was a concern for 18 per cent of local authorities when carrying out their sustainability checks.

This is despite knowing the vast potential a good internet connection can have on the productivity and efficiency of life in the village, facilitating growth and sustainability. A digital connection can assist with online shopping, or even ordering prescription medicines.

Published today in a report titled “Sustainable Villages - making rural communities fit for the future”, the CLA declared that the planning criteria ought to be updated to suit 21st century lifestyles, and urged local authorities to be more practical in their approach to identifying and finding solutions to problems faced in small rural areas.

Tim Breitmeyer, president of the CLA, said: “Sustainable development is not just for towns and cities. Finding and promoting sustainable solutions for rural communities is vital to the long-term vitality of the countryside.

“Updating rural planning policy to include connectivity in sustainability assessments means English villages will not be trapped in analogue when the rest of the world is in the digital age and can access much of the housing they desperately need.”

Failing this, the report warns that restricted housing allocation, in particular the inability to create affordable housing options in these small communities, will worsen the rural housing crisis.

The government has been called in to support rural areas not addressed by local authorities, and to provide adequate assessment for growth and sustainability purposes.

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