Housing minister Iain Wright has announced new powers to help keep homes affordable for communities in rural areas.

The new measures mean that rural communities with severe housing shortages could be designated as protected areas, ensuring affordable housing is retained for local families.

Affordable housing providers in these areas will be able to retain a share in new shared ownership homes, or have the first buy back option. This will ensure these homes remain available for future families in the local community.

The new proposals could also see more people being able to cut the cost of getting on the housing ladder through Community Land Trusts.

Iain Wright said yesterday: ‘In rural areas where affordable housing is scarce and hard to replace, we need to make sure those homes are protected for future generations. We're unveiling new proposals on community land trusts and preserving affordable housing which will help achieve that goal.

‘'We're providing all the tools so local communities can find a solution that's right for them.’

Graham Garbutt, chief executive of the Commission for Rural Communities, said: ‘The lack of affordable housing continues to be the single most pressing problem faced by rural people. This is leading to the loss of young people and increasing age imbalance, as well as undermining the sustainability of rural communities.'

'Now is the time to be bringing forward proposals that will make a real difference backed up with funding already allocated to provide affordable homes in rural towns and villages.’

The consultation was launched at the Housing Corporation’s Investing in Rural Futures Conference.