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
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager - OTE £40,000

£28000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Contracts / Sales Administrator

£19500 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Knowledge of and ability to use...

Recruitment Genius: Mobile Engineer - Powered Access

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They pride themselves that they...

Recruitment Genius: Pharmacy Branch Manager

£19000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This pharmacy group are looking...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence