Skip to main content


Rural Housing Guide

The availability of land for house building can be a constraint on the development of affordable housing. It is important before embarking on a housing project to have a good knowledge of local planning policies governing housing development in your community. In many rural communities there is little or no land zoned for housing, and what has been zoned for housing can be expensive to buy or might have already have been bought or “optioned” by a developer.

In rural communities close to urban cities pressure on the housing market can mean that any rural housing land is in high demand from developers; and even land which has no planning but is on the edge of villages may already have been optioned by developers.

In remoter areas planning may be more flexible in allowing housing development on land with no planning designation. Some local authorities have designated wide areas where development may be possible. It is also possible that some land may have been zoned specifically for affordable housing.

It is important to remember that the final decision on whether a development is possible in a particular area lies with the local councillors, not the planning officials and not the local plan. Therefore even if there does not appear to be suitable land, if the need for housing is strong enough, it may be worthwhile developing a project and seeking to persuade councillors to back the project as a departure from the local plan.

One or two local authorities operate a planning policy called an exceptions policy. This policy allows the development of affordable housing on land which has not been zoned for housing where a need for affordable housing can be proved. The advantage of this policy is that it makes development possible by making land available when needed and also the value of the land will be substantially lower than land zoned for housing.