Tackling the rural housing crisis – new national guide for parish councils launched

15/12/2014
With property prices reaching an average of eight times local incomes in the majority of rural areas, the Rural Housing Alliance and Rural Services Network have launched a new guide promoting affordable rural housing.
The guide aimed at parish councils across England, promotes the benefit of affordable rural housing developments and the role that local community groups, like the parish council can play in their delivery. The guide opens with a call to action from HRH The Princess Royal, a longstanding advocate of affordable rural housing, encouraging parish councils to take the lead in tackling the affordable housing crisis facing the countryside.

HRH The Princess Royal said:

“Small scale affordable rural housing developments help to rebalance communities, keeping families together whilst providing a boost for local services. Parish and town councils are a driving force for change and a key partner in delivering affordable homes for local people.”

Need for affordable rural housing continues to increase as demand for rural living soars, with greater access to the countryside, low levels of development and migration from high income urban households all major causes. Low income families living in rural areas now face a difficult future, often having to move, leaving support and employment networks behind them. The unsustainable affordability gap is destabilising many villages, driving out low income households and starving local services of employees and customers.

Sue Chalkley, Chief Executive of Hastoe Housing Association, said:

“Building more affordable and energy efficient rural homes is a key priority for Hastoe and we were very pleased to contribute to the development of this updated version of the guide.  The first edition was extremely popular with Parish Councils and local communities and I am sure this will be equally so.”

Rising to the challenge of the rural crisis requires strong local input and leadership.  There is no simple answer, but this guide provides practical information and guidance, the building blocks to providing local communities with good quality and affordable homes.

In support of the guide, Peter Moore, Chair of the Rural Housing Alliance and Chief Executive of Cornwall Rural Housing Association, says:

“The importance of this problem should not be underestimated. This is not a new crisis, but one that continues to get worse. Many rural communities are approaching a watershed moment where, if nothing is done, longstanding local families, businesses and cultures will disappear, damaging the very way of life that makes our villages so appealing. Maintaining a balance of income earners, household types and age groups is crucial to keeping villages vibrant and active. Developments of affordable rural homes help to achieve this balance and diversity.”

Graham Biggs, RSN Chief Executive, says:

"We are really pleased to have been able to work hand in hand with the Rural Housing Alliance to produce this excellent guide which we know will be very well received across rural England."

The guide can be accessed via this link:

www.rsnonline.org.uk/images/files/ruralhousing-guideforparishcouncils2014.pdf

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