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Guildford Borough Council

Proposed Submission Local Plan: strategy and sites 2017

Proposed Submission Local Plan: strategy and sites 2017 - Part 1: Policies

Policy H3: Rural Exception Homes


4.2.45 In many rural Green Belt areas of Guildford the borough high house prices and a limited supply of new affordable homes restrict the potential for resident and newly-forming households and those working in the parish to live in a home of their own that they can afford. People who cannot afford to access market housing that meets their needs, either to rent or to buy, need affordable homes. People in this situation who have connections to rural parishes through family, recent past residence, or current employment may be eligible for Rrural exception housing.

4.2.46 As an exception to other development plan policies including Green Belt policy, we will support the provision of rural exception housing. This is affordable housing provided on small sites in rural areas on Green Belt land, as an exception to other planning policies. Such housing must be retained permanently for people who are current or former residents, or who have a family or employment connection to the parish.

POLICY H3: Rural exception homes

(1) Small affordable housing developments, including pitches for travellers, will be permitted to meet identified local affordable housing needs provided that:

(a) the site adjoins or is closely related to, and in safe and easy reasonable walking distance of a defined or a non-defined rural settlement, and

(b) the number, size and tenure of homes would be appropriate to meet, or to contribute to meeting, the identified local affordable housing needs of the local community , and

(c) the affordable homes are all secured as affordable homes in perpetuity.


Reasoned Justification

4.2.47 There are fewer opportunities to build new homes in our small rural settlements surrounded by, or designated as Green Belt than there are in and around the towns of Guildford, and Ash and Tongham due to more restrictive policies on housing in countryside and particularly in the Green Belt. Reflecting this reduced opportunity, legislation enables us to secure affordable housing in perpetuity in and around most of the villages in the borough. In the villages and parishes listed in the legislation we can secure rural exception housing in perpetuity, secured by planning obligation. In the parishes of East Horsley and Send, rural exception housing may be delivered providing the protection is in place to secure these permanently as affordable housing[1].

4.2.48 In determining whether a site is suitably small scale, consideration will be given to identified local affordable housing needs and to previous applications for rural exception housing.

4.2.49 We will work with parish councils, the Surrey Rural Housing Enabler and landowners to understand the affordable housing needs of people with a local connection to specific rural areas. In applying this policy, consideration will be given to the needs of the local community by accommodating households who have a current employment or family connection, or are current or recent former residents of the Parish. This includes a cascade approach to the allocation of rural exception housing. We will also facilitate provision of rural exception sites for local agricultural workers, and for local traveller needs where such a need is demonstrated. Traveller exception housing will be provided on council-owned public pitches on small, suitably located sites in the Green Belt.

4.2.50 Local Rural Housing Needs Surveys are generally carried out by the Surrey Rural Housing Enabler, working with the Council and Parish Councils. We have a rolling programme of surveys for the borough's Parishes. Over half of the parishes in the borough already have local housing needs surveys, although such surveys must be up-to-date if they are to be used in support of a planning application for rural exception housing. Developers may also carry out their own surveys, provided these are verified by the Council and the Rural Housing Enabler. The need for affordable pitches for Travellers' accommodation is reported in Guildford's Traveller Accommodation Assessment 2013.

4.2.51 Rural exception housing will be delivered by Registered Providers, and by private developers.

4.2.52 There may be situations where a developer demonstrates that a rural exception scheme would be unviable without public subsidy. In such situations, and where there are no alternative sites available to provide the identified local affordable housing needs (as required by national policy) we may consider permitting the minimum number of market homes to make the scheme viable. We may also consider allowing at least one market home where this would result in a significant improvement in the housing mix (tenure, type or size) or rent levels. The inclusion of market housing must serve to benefit the rural affordable housing stock and not inflate the "threshold land value". This is the minimum land value likely to trigger an owner to sell the land.

4.2.53 Land values are generally high across the borough. To ensure that developers take into account the policy requirements of land potentially suitable for rural exception housing, where a developer proposes that at least one market house needs to be included to make the rural exception scheme viable, we will require submission of a development appraisal. In considering this, we will limit the threshold land value of the site to no more than ten times the agricultural land value at the time. Where agreement cannot be reached, external consultants will be appointed at the developer's cost to provide an independent assessment of the scheme's viability. Any market housing must improve the mix of market housing in the village, and must be integrated into the rural exception development.

4.2.54 To ensure that the housing is secured permanently to meet local affordable housing needs, we will require the affordable housing provider to enter into a planning obligation with cascade provisions. This requires the housing to be allocated to people with a localconnection to the parish (through residence, employment or close family), followed by those with a local connection to adjacent parishes within the borough who meet the criteria, and finally those with a connection to the borough of Guildford in accordance with its published scheme Guildford Homechoice (or equivalent scheme).

Key Evidence

  • Parish housing needs surveys (various dates)
  • West Surrey Strategic Housing Market Area Assessment (Guildford Borough Council, 2015) and Guildford Addendum Report 2017
  • Local Plan Viability and Affordable Housing Study (Guildford Borough Council, 2014) and update 2016
  • Tenancy Strategy (Guildford Borough Council, 2013)
  • Guildford Housing Strategy 2015-2020 (Guildford Borough Council, 2015)
  • Guildford borough Traveller Accommodation Assessment (Guildford Borough Council, 20172)


Monitoring Indicators



Data source

Number of rural exception homes permitted by planning application


Planning applications and appeals


Number of starter homes permitted on rural exception sites


Number of market homes approved on rural exception sites for viability reasons



1. This is because they are not designated as “rural areas” by the Housing (Right to Acquire or Enfranchise) (Designated Rural Areas in the South East) Order 1997. East Horsley and Send therefore are not exempt from the right to acquire or right to enfranchise, and so affordable housing cannot automatically be secured in perpetuity. In order for a rural exception scheme to be granted planning approval in East Horsley or Send, the housing provider will have to demonstrate that mechanisms are in place to ensure that the properties remain as affordable housing in perpetuity, for example being held in a Community Land Trust and let on terms which would not allow the freehold to be acquired by the resident and/or sold on the open market. [back]