George Osborne and Boris Johnson
The chancellor said the move is part of a wider government plan to help rural economies (Getty)

Developers will soon be able to build on previously unused land in England in a bid to tackle the "scandalous" shortage of homes in rural communities, under new plans announced by George Osborne on 20 August. The chancellor wants to extend the government's "starter homes" scheme to so called "rural exception sites" for the first time.

The move, part of the Conservative government's Rural Productivity Plan, would give new buyers a 20% discount for their first property. Osborne's proposals also include working with private sector providers to assess alternative solutions to deliver broadband further into rural areas.

"For too long the British economy has been reliant on businesses based in our cities and towns. We want to create a One Nation economy that taps into the potential of all parts of our country," the chancellor said.

"That means setting the right conditions for rural communities and businesses to thrive, investing in education and skills, improving rural infrastructure, and allowing rural villages to thrive and grow."

The government also said it would consider proposals for more devolution of powers and greater freedoms to the countryside, under the Rural Productivity Plan.

Greg Clark, the communities secretary, said: "We're determined to ensure anyone who works hard and aspires to own their own home has the opportunity to do so – whether they live in cities, towns or rural communities. But all too often young people find themselves exiled from the place they grew up as they are forced to move away to find a home of their own.

"That's why we're putting power directly in the hands of rural councils to give the go-ahead for new starter homes in their area so local young first-time buyers can continue to be a vital part of their communities. To unleash the full potential of rural areas and improve the quality of life for people living in some of the most beautiful parts of the country, the government will deliver."