GOVERNMENT proposals threaten to reduce the delivery of much-needed affordable housing in the Cornish countryside, the Rural Services Network has warned.

The network issued the warning in response to a government consultation on a proposed 10-unit threshold for so-called Section 106 affordable housing contributions.

The proposal means developers would not be obliged to provide affordable housing on smaller sites of 10 houses or under.

Network housing spokesman Andy Dean said: "Rural affordable homes are difficult to deliver for a variety of reasons and it is critical that existing routes to deliver such homes are not cut off.

"Implementing the 10-unit threshold would significantly impact on the delivery of much needed affordable homes in the countryside."

The Rural Services Network said that a large proportion of the delivery of affordable housing in communities of less than 3,000 population was through Section 106 sites that were 10 units or less, Mr Dean added.

Adding that in the 2008/11 affordable housing programme, for example, 75 per cent of rural homes were built using this method and that removing it would have a "potentially massive impact on delivery".

At the same time, Section 106 had proved to be an increasingly important mechanism to ensure that affordable homes were built even though public resources had reduced.

"Introducing the threshold threatens to drastically reduce the provision of affordable homes in rural areas," concluded Mr Dean.