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£23.5million investment boosts rural affordable housing

Two leading housing providers, hoping to invest more than £23.5million in rural affordable homes in Staffordshire by 2016, are championing the need to provide more rural housing to help residents struggling to afford a home.

Stafford and Rural Homes (SARH) and Housing Plus are supporting the National Housing Federation’s Rural Housing Week (June 10-16), as they announce plans to develop 214 affordable rural homes over the next three years in parishes across the district.

With the average house price in South Staffordshire of £207,125, and £176,703 in Stafford – SARH and Housing Plus are working in partnership to help families remain in their rural communities, to which they have links to family and work.

Both organisations are each working across five parishes, with SARH working on plans for 99 homes and Housing Plus potentially providing 115 homes, subject to planning permission. Of the 214 homes, planning permission is being sought for 132 homes in this financial year.

Ursula Bennion, director of business development for Housing Plus, said: “We know there is a dire need for more affordable homes in rural areas, not only inSouth Staffordshirebut nationally. They are needed to help people stay living near friends and family, as well as to maintain the demand for local shops, schools and other amenities.

“We are committed to working as a partnership to make sure that more homes in these rural villages are built so people are not forced to move away and priced out of affording their own home. We have proved through the developments underway and ones in the pipeline that by working innovatively and in partnership with local parishes it is possible to develop high quality affordable homes to meet housing need.”

SARH and Housing Plus are currently working on two development sites in Gnosall, where 36 homes are being developed on ‘rural exception sites’. These are where land that would not normally gain planning permission for housing can be developed for affordable homes where there is a proven local need and will be let to local people with a connection to the Parish.

Karen Armitage, chief executive of SARH, said: “House prices in rural areas are forcing young people out of where they have grown up and have links to family and friends. Without more rural developments people on lower incomes are being squeezed out of the property market.

“We are fully in support of the National Housing Federation’s Rural Housing Week. We would urge more local councils to realise the need to ‘say yes to homes’ – we would not have been able to develop the volume of homes we are planning without the partnership and backing of the parish councils we work with.”

You can support the need for more rural homes by ‘saying yes to homes’ and visiting www.yestohomes.co.uk

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