Community housing | SARH celebrates Rural Housing Week with tour of successful development

SARH celebrates Rural Housing Week with tour of successful development

A successful project that’s helped to meet housing needs in a popular Staffordshire village has been put in the spotlight by Stafford and Rural Homes (SARH).

As part of the National Housing Federation’s Rural Housing Week, SARH has showcased its recently completed Stonehills Close development, reflecting the housing association’s continued commitment to the rural communities it serves.

Built with the backing of Fulford Parish Council, which identified a clear local need for affordable housing, the development of 20 new homes sits alongside open fields in Hilderstone Road, Meir Heath.

Built at a cost of £2.8 million the scheme received £200,000 in support from Stafford Borough Council and the Homes and Communities Agency provided £300,000 grant funding. It is the latest in a series of developments by SARH that have provided a real boost to villages across the area, including Gnosall, Hixon and Swynnerton.

Karen Armitage, SARH Chief Executive, explained: “Every year, Rural Housing Week puts the spotlight firmly on the growing crisis facing people who want to remain in an area where they have strong connections, either through work or family, but are all too frequently priced out of the market.

“In rural communities, there can even be more pressure on the housing market than in urban areas so it is vital housing associations such as SARH step up and work with the community to deliver affordable housing solutions.

“As well as keeping families together, such projects also ensure rural communities can thrive in the future, retaining essential resources like schools and shops.”

Stonehills Close was built on a rural exception site, where planning permission is only granted to meet clearly identified needs. All the properties are now occupied, either by people renting from SARH or by those who have taken the first step on the property ladder through shared ownership. All the new residents have strong connections to the area.

At an event to celebrate Rural Housing Week Karen was joined by representatives of Fulford Parish Council, Stafford Borough Council and house builders, Partner Construction to look at the new homes that have been built to the highest standards.

Cllr Richard Mycock, Chairman of Fulford Parish Council, commented: “The whole development has been very well done and it is very much in keeping with the surrounding area.

“The gardens look lovely and the homes, which have been built on the site of a disused tree nursery, are a real asset for the village that we all can be proud of.”

Cllr Jeremy Pert, Cabinet Member for Communities at Stafford Borough Council added: “Once we have identified a demand for local housing to allow our residents to stay in the communities that they have a close association with, having a partner such as Stafford and Rural Homes to deliver these homes is crucial.

“The way these properties integrate with the local community and their build quality, which comes as standard with Stafford and Rural Homes, makes these homes feel like they have always been here. And the level of demand for these homes clearly demonstrates this and we look forward to working with SARH and other Parish Councils to identify other suitable rural exception sites to meet the demand identified from local communities”

The aim of Rural Housing Week is to highlight rural housing issues and to showcase housing associations’ innovative solutions for tackling them.

This year the theme is Delivering the Ambition, which feeds into the refreshed Ambition to Deliver initiative, re-launched by the National Housing Federation at its Annual Conference.

Pictured at Stonehills Close during Rural Housing Week are, left to right: Cllr Jeremy Pert, Cabinet Member for Communities at Stafford Borough Council; Cllr Richard Mycock, Chairman of Fulford Parish Council; SARH Chief Executive Karen Armitage; and Chris Poulton, Executive Director of Operations at SARH.

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