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What is a rural exception sites policy?

Introduction

Rural housing is a very specialist area of expertise and in this guide we briefly review what a rural exception site is and the policy required. We have attached a number of regional documents to this section which should prove useful in delivering rural affordable housing

What is an exception site and policy?

An exception site is one that would not usually secure planning permission for housing, for example agricultural land next to but not within a local settlement area.   A development plan or Development Plan Document may allow for the development of small sites within rural areas solely for affordable housing, which would not otherwise be released for general market housing; this is a rural exceptions policy.

Developing exceptions sites

Development of exception sites can be a complex and lengthy process however, with the involvement, support and knowledge of the local community these schemes can be successful in providing affordable housing.

Planning Policy Statement 3 housing (PPS3) advises that:

In providing for affordable housing in rural communities, where opportunities for delivering affordable housing tend to be more limited, the aim should be to deliver high quality housing that contributes to the creation and maintenance of sustainable rural communities in market towns and villages. This requires planning at local and regional level adopting a positive and pro-active approach which is informed by evidence, with clear targets for the delivery of rural affordable housing. Where viable and practical, Local Planning Authorities should consider allocating and releasing sites solely for affordable housing, including using a Rural Exception Site Policy. This enables small sites to be used, specifically for affordable housing in small rural communities that would not normally be used for housing because, for example, they are subject to policies of restraint. Small rural settlements have been designated for enfranchisement and right to acquire purposes (under Section 17 of the Housing Act 1996) by SI 1997/620-25 inclusive and 1999/1307.

Rural exception sites should only be used for affordable housing in perpetuity. A Rural Exception Site policy should seek to address the needs of the local community by accommodating households who are either current residents or have an existing family or employment connection, whilst also ensuring that rural areas continue to develop as sustainable, mixed, inclusive communities. (See para 30) Web link >>

How do you develop an exception site?

For more information about developing an exception site see the document below:

delivery_leaflet_rural.pdf

 

For extra information about delivering affordable housing in rural areas see Solid Foundations, Delivering Rural Affordable Housing published by the Yorkshire and Humber Regional Assembly (2008).

http://www.lgyh.gov.uk/The Library/Other Research/Housing/ 

Further document which you may find useful are below:

Community engagement  community_engagement_rural__lft.pdf

Identifying land and sites

 identifying_leaflet_rural.pdf
Developing an exception site  developing_leaflet_rural.pdf

Delivery through planning gain

  delivery_leaflet_rural.pdf
Negotiation of 106 sites  negotiating_leaflet_rural.pdf
Partnership working  partners_leaflet_rural.pdf
Planning policy context  planning_policy_leaflet_rural.pdf

 

 

More information about rural housing is also available in ‘Living Working Countryside, The Taylor Review of Rural Economy and Affordable Housing’: Web link >>

The following local two planning authorities have rural exception sites policies within their Local Development Frameworks:

Harrogate Borough Council Local Development Scheme, Policy HLP3: Affordable housing provision: Rural exception sites: Web link >>

See also the best practice case study of Allocation of Rural Exception Sites by Wealdon District Council.


  1. What is an affordable housing policy?
  2. What should be included within an affordable housing policy?
  3. How do I use my evidence base in developing my affordable housing policy?
  4. When developing an affordable housing policy, who should I consult with and when?
  5. What is affordable housing for rent?
  6. What is affordable housing for sale?
  7. What do I do to ensure that the policy is economically viable?
  8. What is a rural exception sites policy?