Thursday, 8 October 2009

Gibson calls for rural housing increase

News release
Immediate release

Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson has urged for an end to rural clearances and a return rural re settlement during a debate in the Scottish Parliament.

Mr Gibson's comments came during a debate on the rural housing report which was commissioned by the Rural Affairs and Environment Committee to encourage Scottish Government action to encourage more housing in rural areas.

Opening his speech Mr Gibson said that he was glad that the matter had been brought to the fore under an SNP administration. As in the last Parliament he and Richard Lochead (now rural affairs secretary) had been blocked by other (rural affairs) committee members for introducing such a report.

Welcoming the report from the Committee, Mr Gibson said that real change to the planning system was needed to help deliver more homes in rural areas…

"When local plans come up for production, the proposals are put forward by the planners, who have an holistic view—in theory—about how settlements ought to operate, and why it is more economic to have people living in small areas so that dwellings can be serviced more easily. We have to challenge that view; the SNP believes that there are issues around the way in which village envelopes are currently structured, and that that has to change. Why should a person have to have a job in agriculture to live and work in the countryside? We must find a way around that."

He quoted an example in Arran which is a prime example of why change is needed for the whole of Scotland…the applicant is trying to get a plot for his son to live and start a business. The plot is based 10 minutes from Brodick pier. However North Ayrshire Council has denied the application as they stated that they did not think that the site was appealing enough for the applicant. It's remoteness and the use of mechanical transport would distract from the appeal of the area and it would set a precedent which would be undesirable.

Speaking after the debate he said….

"Rural affordable housing has been allowed to become further out of reach to the general population for generations. This report is a start and I welcome it. However there needs to be greater practical change in planning departments for there to be a real difference. Repopulating rural areas is something which will breath new life into the country and is an aspiration worth achieving."


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