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Rural Affordable Housing in South Staffordshire


What is affordable housing?


Affordable housing provides a home to those that are unable to afford to buy or rent a property on the open market. We need affordable housing in rural areas for a number of reasons:


  • House prices in South Staffordshire are significantly higher than the regional and national averages, making it difficult for our young families, couples and single people to afford a house on the open market in their local area. South Staffordshire’s 2013 Housing Market Assessment showed a high need for affordable homes for local people.


  • Ensuring residents have the means to remain in their local area means rural communities continue to thrive and local services prosper.


  • Without affordable housing, only those on higher household incomes could afford to live in our villages. Providing affordable homes allows for a mix of residents of all ages and incomes, creating a vibrant rural community.


  • In some cases, development of affordable housing will also enable older people to downsize where preferred, but still remain in their local area. This then also frees up existing housing stock in the area for larger families.



Developing affordable housing in rural areas involves a number of different partners coming together to ensure any new scheme has a positive impact on the local community. The development will involve:


  • Parish Council
  • District Council
  • Landowners
  • Registered Providers (Housing Associations)
  • The local community


One way of meeting the housing need in our villages, whilst protecting the rural idyll our residents value, is through the development of rural exception sites.


What is a rural exception site?


A rural exception site is an area of greenbelt land exempt from normal planning policy. Permission will be granted for limited development in exceptional circumstances where a clear need for housing has been proven. The properties built on this site will be affordable, and only available to those with a strong connection to the local area.


Development on a rural exception site will usually be carried out by a housing association, including consultation with the Parish Council, District Council and the local community. In order to ensure the housing remains reserved for local people (both on initial rent/sale and also in the future), a Section 106 agreement is drawn up and signed by the housing association and the Council.


This document will secure the new housing as affordable and available only to people connected with the local area. The local connection criteria will also be laid out in this agreement, which will then be used in the allocation of the properties to residents. An example of this criteria can be viewed by clicking on the link below.

Make a planning application


80% of our district is greenbelt, and rural exception sites are one way of balancing protection of this land with meeting housing need. Careful planning and preparation beforehand ensures the development is sustainable, with the type of housing provided appropriate in size and price to meet local need.


The rural exception site policy can be found in South Staffordshire Council’s Adopted Core Strategy (Policy H3).



Click on the links below for a breakdown of the rural exception site process, as well as some examples of rural affordable housing developments.




Example Local Connection Criteria





Step-by-Step Process



Case Study: Rural Exception Site in Swindon







Facts and Figures at a glance


  • Average house price in South Staffordshire in August 2014: £221,081
  • Average affordability ratio in South Staffordshire in August 2014: 8.93


The Housing Market Assessment of 2013 identified:

  • 72.6% of concealed households (households living within another household but with a preference to live independently) in the district are denied access to the open market
  • 18.1% of all new forming households can afford to pay no more than £301 to £350 per calendar month in rent - but access rents are £385 pcm.


More Information


The National Housing Federation have written a number of guides providing further information on rural affordable housing and rural exception sites. Click on the links below to view them:




Affordable Rural Housing: A practical guide for parish councils

(from the Rural Housing Alliance)


Affordable housing keeps villages alive






If you think your village would benefit from developing rural affordable housing, and/or you would like further information on rural exception sites, please contact:


The Regeneration Team

01902 696000

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