Rural Housing Spotlight

The Rural Services Network is keen to provide an opportunity for its members to channel their concerns, highlight good practice and share thoughts on this critical area. This Rural Housing Spotlight is one mechanism for doing just that. The spotlight is facilitated by your membership of the Rural Services Network and produced in partnership with the Rural Housing Alliance, highlighting a selection of current rural housing issues and opportunities.


 Ruarl Housing - website

July 2017

1The 5-star plan for rural housing which sets out am ambition to increase the supply of homes in partnership with local communities was officially launch during Rural Housing Week in July. Around 50 organisations have already signed-up to support the plan, including housing associations, rural community councils and local authorities, along with a range of influential national rural advocates and organisations including RSN. Working collaboratively, the Rural Housing Alliance and National Housing Federation plan to engage with existing supporters whilst continuing to promote the 5-star plan to a wider audience, aspiring to grow the momentum and achieve impact.
Martin Collett, who becomes chairman of the Rural Housing Alliance in October this year, said: "Those that haven't signed-up and want to find out more about the work can visit the Federation's website where full details are available. Supporters can also download a 5-star plan logo to use in publications. As stated at the Rural Housing Week conference, 'This is only the beginning' so watch this space and get supporting if you haven't yet done so!"

2Peter French, Policy Officer at the National Housing Federation, writes:
"The recent tragic events at Grenfell Tower left us all feeling shocked and saddened, and in the run up to Rural Housing Week it was hard to think of anything else. But there remained an opportunity to give renewed focus to the importance of housing in rural areas, how vital it is for those communities, and a chance to showcase the fantastic work that housing associations do.
"It was an action-packed week, and not just for members of the Federation. The CLA hosted a Housing Summit and released its research into meeting rural housing needs, while the Rural Coalition published its 2017 statement, focusing on increasing the delivery of affordable homes.
"Our own conference focused on our Ambition to Deliver in a rural context. We know that developing new homes in rural areas brings unique challenges, and that more affordable homes are desperately needed. But housing associations are stepping up to the challenge. In 2016/17, housing associations built 3,030 homes and started building 3,769 in predominantly rural areas. 49% of the completions were built without any government investment, demonstrating the social purpose of the sector and resilience of housing associations who have continued to deliver in challenging times.
"Whilst there is a lot to celebrate, we do have our work cut out. The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) published a report this week, sponsored by Hastoe, which reveals the extent of the homelessness crisis in rural areas. It estimates that 6,270 rural households were homeless in 2015/16. And BBC's Panorama shined a spotlight on the impact that Brexit could have on our food and farming industry, particularly on the rural workforce.
"All of this demonstrates the pressing need for affordable rural housing, which is why we've worked with our members to create the rural housing 5-star plan. Its aims are simple: to work with communities to deliver more homes in rural areas that benefit those communities as well as contributing to the rural economy. A key aim of the plan is to increase the development of new rural homes by 6% per year. If we can achieve this, it would see the sector delivering 10,000 new homes every year in rural areas by 2033."
You can read more on what Peter has to say about Rural Housing Week and the 5 Star Plan via this link.

3Warwickshire Rural Housing Association has had plenty to shout about during Rural Housing Week as it's delivering more affordable homes for more families in more villages than ever before this year.
To mark this achievement, and to coincide with Rural Housing Week 2017, the housing association Board, including WRHA Chairman, Derrick Dyas, took the opportunity to tour three new development sites.
The grand tour kicked off in Wootton Wawen, where WRHA is working in partnership with Bouygues UK, one of the country's leading construction companies, Waterloo Housing Group, and the local community, on the first ever Passivhaus scheme in the county.

Older rural people suffer from the lack of affordable housing as much as a lack of access to social care, poor public transport and slow or non-existent broadband. In response, the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Housing and Care for Older People has launched an inquiry into housing for older people in rural communities.
Speaking at the CLA's rural housing summit, to coincide with Rural Housing Week 2017, Lord Best (co-chair of the APPG) announced the new inquiry, Rural Housing for an Ageing Population: Policy Initiatives or HAPPI 4.

4Residents in Braunston joined Northamptonshire Rural Housing Association for an un-bear-lievable afternoon to celebrate Rural Housing Week 2017.
Local families, Board members and colleagues came together to enjoy a special teddy bear's picnic to mark the completion of Phase 3 of the housing association's new development.
Twenty affordable properties, developed by emh homes, were completed at Maple Close in Braunston during Phases 1 and 2. However, a Housing Needs Survey showed that further affordable homes were still needed to enable people to stay in the village, and an additional 12 properties were built this year for people with a local connection to Braunston.

Monday 16 October 2017 has been fixed as the date for a key conference to be held by the National Housing Federation. The venue will be the historic Pitville Pump Room in Cheltenham.
The Federation state: "Housing associations recognise the importance of affordable housing in rural areas – and the positive impact that it can have. That's why we have an ambition to increase current housing supply in rural areas by 6% per year over the next 5 years. Local landowners are vital to bringing forward land for housing in rural areas and we want to explore how housing associations and landowners can work together to deliver more.

Rooftop Housing Group have produced a great short film in which Head of Development, Tim Wade, aims to bust the myths about Rural Housing and Development. Follow this link to see what you think.

5South Somerset District Council (SSDC) hosted two events during rural housing week and a further later in July that allowed Parish Councils to learn more about community led housing.
Those attending the event at Norton Sub Hamdon were also able to view the Community Land Trust (CLT) housing scheme that has been completed there and visit the local shop and post office which the Trust has taken over and is now run by volunteers. The CLT scheme, developed with Yarlington Housing Group, consisted of 10 houses, 8 for rent and 2 shared ownership properties. This is one of two CLT schemes that have been completed in South Somerset, the other scheme is in Queen Camel, which was a large scheme of 20 houses, 16 for rent and 4 for shared ownership. Other parishes are now looking to follow suit.

New garden cities, towns and villages have been proposed as one way to meet the housing shortfall. A new garden city is under development at Ebbsfleet and the Government has offered support for a number of further garden town and village sites across the country. A number of studies propose different models for delivering garden cities. The House of Commons library has produced a briefing paper which sets out further information about the differing views on garden settlements and government support and policies in relation to them. You can access a copy of the report here.

In a blog produced as part of Rural Housing Week Craig Felts, Managing Director at Midlands Rural Housing, writes:
"I've often heard the view expressed within rural communities that while there's a willingness to do something about meeting affordable housing needs, there's no land available to do so.
"This usually occurs on a first visit to a parish council or community meeting and is often said before any attempt has been made to establish whether such housing is required or not. It is, unfortunately, used by some as an opening 'blocking statement' to stop any prospect of development. If this view was always accepted at the outset, we at Midlands Rural Housing would have built far less than we have."

Hastoe has recently completed the final phase of a housing scheme in Roussillon, Chichester. The four homes for affordable rent and eight homes for shared ownership bring the total number of affordable homes provided by Hastoe at the former Roussillon Barracks to 101 of the total 252 homes built.
The completion of these homes by Hastoe comes just months after a National Housing Federation study found that over 6% of all properties in the Chichester district (55,150 homes) are second homes. This distorts the Chichester housing market and pushes up house prices – making it impossible for local people to buy a home in their own community and expensive for them to rent.

62016/17 was another very successful year for the North & East Yorkshire Rural Housing Enabler (RHE) programme, with a total of 174 new rural affordable homes completed on sites across the rural areas. Of these, 155 were for rent and 19 were for low cost home ownership to meeting a range of rural housing needs.
In addition another, 815 rural affordable homes gained planning consent in 2016/17 meaning that the completions forecast for 2017/18 now stands at well over 200 new rural affordable homes. In total, the RHE Programme has delivered 780 homes, averaging 130 per year against an annual target of 100.

7Around 6 years ago Supporting People funding in Shropshire changed and Shropshire Housing Group took the decision to try and establish a viable stand alone service to offer support in all areas of everyday life. Due to the dispersed and rural nature of Shropshire, this service was initially funded by the Group but as it has become established and grown it is now financed by private clients or by contracts with other agencies as part of bigger care packages.
HomeLife offers customers a tailored local service of visits each week or month which provides help and assistance for people of any age with day to day tasks, helping them live a better, more fulfilled life.

8aTeignbridge District Council has scooped a top regional award, winning Regional Council / Local Authority of the Year at the South West Regional Energy Efficiency & Healthy Homes Awards 2017.
Awarding the top prize for the Council's leading work in energy efficient projects for the local community and priority in tackling fuel poverty, Teignbridge's energy achievements include:

Rural homelessness is a growing problem, with over 6,000 rural households becoming homeless last year and record numbers of rural families in bed and breakfasts, according to research out this month.
While the causes of homelessness are often similar in urban and rural areas and usually linked to family breakdown, the ending of a private tenancy or financial hardship, services to tackle homelessness are very much concentrated in urban areas – leaving rural communities to fend for themselves.
In response, Hastoe is calling for policy makers to recognise the specific challenges of tackling homelessness in the countryside and take action to provide targeted advice and support.

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Rural Housing Alliance

Working in Partnership
This information is produced in partnership with the Rural Housing Alliance.


Rural Alliance Pledge
Members of the Rural Housing Alliance are all signed up to the Rural Pledge. Launched with the National Housing Federation in 2011, this pledge remains highly relevant and contains the following commitments:
•    Work closely with the local community and Parish Council to find the right site
•    Always give qualifying local people in housing need first priority for every home
•    Ensure that affordable homes always remain affordable
•    Build sensitively designed, high quality homes to high environmental standards
•    Provide good quality and locally sensitive management services to our residents
•    Always respond positively to the local community.
A copy of the Pledge can be viewed by following this link.


Keep Calm and Join Up!
RSN exists to enable the issues facing the rural areas of England to be identified, information and good practice to be shared and government to be challenged to address the needs and build on the opportunities which abound in rural areas.

If you know a rural housing organisation that would benefit from membership, please ask them to consider joining us. RSN is a solely rural focussed organisation with an electronic distribution network in excess of 40,000 individuals. We reach right across all the rural areas of England and provide a sustained and respected voice for rural areas at national level. Anyone who wants to talk to us about our role and services in relation to rural housing should contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to find out more.

If you are a small housing organisation operating in rural England, you can have access to all the services of RSN for an annual subscription of just £250 plus VAT. RSN exists to share information, promote good practice and represent the voice of rural England at a national level. Check out the website for more information or contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to join up.



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