Disused farm buildings across the country should be converted into affordable homes in a bid to revitalise rural communities, the Liberal Democrats have said.
Speaking at the annual conference last week, the Liberal Democrat Shadow Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary, Tim Farron said: that government funding and council grants should be used to support schemes to convert disused and underused farm buildings into affordable homes for local people.
Tim Farron said: that such a policy could create more than 50,000 homes in rural communities, which would help reduce the increasing number of families on council housing waiting lists in these areas.
He added that too many local services in rural areas were closing down and that, despite the public spending squeeze, his party would "invest hundreds of millions of pounds" into opening rural post offices and supporting other services that would help "kick-start the rural economy".
Tim Farron said: the party planned to devolve more powers to local authority level to "put rural communities back in charge of their own destinies".
He criticised the Government for carrying out extensive public consultations, but failing to respond to feedback. "Never have we been more consulted on and never have we been less listened to," he said.
Liberal Democrat Communities and Local Government Secretary, Julia Goldsworthy said: the Government had failed to take on board recommendations from a 2008 government-commissioned report by Liberal Democrat MP, Matthew Taylor on affordable housing and the rural economy that highlighted the importance of community-led development.