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House call

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The AJ campaign to keep the country-house flag flying is looking increasingly confident. As was reported last week, Liberal Democrat MP Simon Hughes is the latest big-hitter to urge the government to think again on this question.

Cross-party support for the Early Day Motion put down by former culture minister Alan Howarth is substantial, with 45 members backing it. Interestingly, the motion suggests that CABE should have to give its support in order for a planning application to succeed, in addition to approval from the local authority. CABE has yet to declare one way or the other on this matter, for the rather obvious reason that current government policy, to ditch the 'Gummer exemption', is formulated by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister - one of CABE's sponsoring departments. However, both CABE's chair, Stuart Lipton , deputy chair Paul Finch , and other commissioners have expressed support for the AJ campaign as individuals. There is a simple way for the government to ease its way out of this little local difficulty, which is to insist that countryhouse applications include a key worker/affordable housing element, whether on site or in the locality, thereby helping rural regeneration in a practical way. Everyone could go home, town or country, happyà

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