Grand designs for more homes in countryside leave public unconvinced

Poll for 'The Independent' shows half of voters reject Coalition initiative to solve housing crisis

Ministers have failed to convince the public that more housing should be built in the countryside, a poll for The Independent shows.

Forty-eight per cent of people disagree with the statement that “the Government is right to change the planning rules to allow more homes to be built in the countryside to try to boost economic growth”, while 45 per cent agree with it, the survey by ComRes found.

Men are more likely than women to support the Coalition’s drive to tackle the housing shortage by ensuring that more homes are built in rural areas. Men back the proposal by a margin of 51 to 45 per cent but women oppose it by a margin of 51 to 40 per cent.

At a time when many younger people struggle to get on the housing ladder, a majority of people between the ages of 18 and 34 support more housebuilding in the countryside, but the idea is opposed by a majority of those in all older age groups.

Additional housing in rural areas enjoys more public support than opposition in London, the North-east, Yorkshire and Humberside, Wales and Scotland but is opposed by more people in the South-east, the South-west, the North-west, the East Midlands and West Midlands.

Labour voters are the most likely to agree with the Coalition’s policy, supporting it by 52 to 42 per cent. It is opposed by 50 per cent of Conservative voters, with 43 per cent backing it. Liberal Democrat voters are almost split down the middle, with 48 per cent supporting more housing and 49 per cent against it. Some 60 per cent of people intending to vote for the UK Independence Party oppose the idea and they are almost as hostile as Green Party voters (67 per cent).

The findings were welcomed by the National Trust, which opposes the Coalition’s strategy. Ingrid Samuel, its historic environment director, said: “The poll suggests that half the population doesn’t want the countryside destroyed for the sake of economic growth. At a time when everyone is worried about jobs and the economy, that’s an extraordinary statement of love for the countryside. What’s important is that we have a planning system that gets houses built where communities need them, not just where it’s convenient or cheap.”

Neil Sinden, director of policy and campaigns at the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), said: “Is the planning system an obstacle to providing more homes? And is another housing-fuelled economic boom a long-term solution? For CPRE the answer to both is a resounding ‘no’. There are planning consents for hundreds of thousands of new homes which are not profitable for housebuilders to build due to the economic climate.”

Nick Boles, a Planning minister, who wants to see the amount of  developed land increased by up to a third, said: “Our reforms will help build the homes and jobs this country needs in a way that safeguards the countryside and maintains protections for green belt and other natural areas.”

Nick Faith, director of communications for the Policy Exchange think-tank, said: “The UK is in the midst of a housing crisis. The Government’s aim to build more homes is right. We can protect the countryside while building the attractive homes that people want.”

ComRes interviewed 1,001 adults by telephone between 26 and 28 April

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Recruitment Genius: Production Operative

£13000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to a period of sustained an...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent