Countryside needs "thriving, sustainable" communities

Blocking the construction of new housing in Scotland’s rural areas has negative economic consequences and contributes to the countryside becoming a "playground for the rich", the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) has said.

The organisation’s director of external affairs, Brian Berry, said that affordable property in Scotland and other parts of the country was needed to ensure that the countryside has communities that "can accommodate everyone".

He added the housing debate was in danger of becoming "polarised" between the government’s plans for large-scale developments that contradict its own sustainability guidelines and organisations like the Council for the Protection of Rural England, which opposes such schemes in the countryside.

The FMB said the "simple truth" is that with 1.5 million families currently living in council properties, 900,000 in temporary accommodation and many Scottish first-time buyers priced out of the market, Britain needs more affordable housing.

"These homes are needed not just in urban areas but in every village, town and city," Mr Berry commented.

He also called on new homes to place more emphasis on sustainability, to give local people a chance to live where they want, while combating fears of "concreting over" the countryside.

The FMB’s Building a Greener Britain campaign, which aims to reduce the carbon footprint of UK housing, was recently endorsed by Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg.