One hundred Labour MPs representing rural constituencies have called on the government to tackle the lack of affordable homes in the countryside.

The MPs, members of Labour’s Rural Group, launched the Manifesto for Rural Britain campaign this week. Central to the group’s demands are calls for the amount of affordable housing in rural areas to be increased.

The group is demanding reforms to the planning system to allow a more flexible approach to affordable housing and more public investment in social rented housing.

The group’s chair, MP Peter Bradley, said: “We are not calling for a planning free-for-all, but it has become so much easier for local authorities to say no to any development.”

Graham Cherry, chief executive of Countryside Properties, backed its campaign. He said: “It is difficult to get planning permission in rural areas because of the NIMBY attitude. And then there are complaints as banks, local shops and businesses close down. Rural communities have to have a sufficient critical mass of people to allow villages and hamlets to be economically viable.”