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Housing providers join royal calls for more rural housing

Stafford and Rural Homes and Housing Group Plus are supporting calls from Princess Anne for more rural affordable housing, following a national housing conference.

Stafford and Rural Homes (SARH) and Housing Plus Group attended the Rural Housing National Conference held recently, where The Princess Royal, who is patron of the English Rural Housing Association, explained villages must build more new homes in a bid to beat the housing crisis.

The princess told delegates that smaller developments of rural homes were preferable to larger scale developments on otherwise untouched countryside, to address the 240,000 homes that are needed.

SARH and Housing Plus are jointly investing more than £23.5 million in rural affordable homes in Staffordshire by 2016 and are championing the need to provide more rural housing to help residents struggling to afford a home.

The development partnership will see them build 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 Housing Plus and SARH are working in partnership to help families remain in their rural communities, to which they have links to family and work.

Ursula Bennion, director of business development at Housing Plus Group, said: “We are pleased that the need for more affordable rural housing is being listened to and that solutions are being explored. In Staffordshire we are seeing a dire need for more affordable homes as people are priced out of rural areas where they have strong connections to.

“We understand there are sensitivities to developing in rural areas, and where we do develop on open countryside or greenbelt land a considerate and mindful approach is needed. Existing rural schemes we have worked on in Swindon and Gnosall have seen the design replicate existing local buildings.”

Chris Poulton, director of asset management and development at SARH, added: “There is a real need for properties throughout Stafford including in rural areas and we are continually working with our partners to develop apartments and two and three bedroom homes to meet the growing need. I very much welcome the support of The Princess Royal as her positive comments can only reinforce the message that more affordable homes are needed if local people are to continue living in rural communities.”

Martin Collett, operations director for the English Rural Housing Association, said: “HRH The Princess Royal has been a long term advocate of our work, securing affordable homes in villages that benefit local people and rural communities. Small, well designed developments built in partnership with the community can often be the catalyst that keeps local services open. Local and national policies should encourage and support the delivery of affordable rural homes and empower rural communities to work with organisations like English Rural Housing Association to tackle their local concerns.”

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