Tackling the rural housing crisis – new national guide highlights success of Stafford and Rural Homes
Stafford and Rural Homes (SARH) has offered its support for a new guide promoting affordable rural homes.
Launched by the Rural Housing Alliance and Rural Services Network, the guide is aimed at parish councils across England, promoting the benefit of affordable rural housing developments and the role that local community groups like the parish council can play in their delivery.
It also features a number of case studies, including the story of a Staffordshire couple who benefit from a shared ownership project by SARH in Gnosall, near Stafford.
The development of 30 affordable homes in Lowfield Lane was the result of a close relationship between SARH and Gnosall Parish Council, which helped to identify a clear local housing need. This enabled planning for the mixed shared ownership/affordable rental scheme to be approved as a rural exception site.
Karen Armitage, Chief Executive of Stafford and Rural Homes, explained: “SARH is already delivering rural exception sites in three parishes in Stafford and a number of others are in the pipeline.
“This guide helps Parish Councils to see the process and partnership that is required to successfully deliver much needed affordable homes in villages and SARH is proud to be involved in this project.”
The Guide itself 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.
The need from local people 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.
Recent analysis found that in 90% of rural areas, property prices were on average eight times local incomes. This unsustainable affordability gap is destabilising many villages, driving out low-income households and starving local services of employees and customers.
Rising to the challenge of this national crisis requires strong local input and leadership. There is no simple answer, but the freshly launched guide provides the building blocks to identify and tackle the housing needs at a local level, ensuring that the problem is fully understood and the solution tailored to local circumstances.
In her call to action, HRH The Princess Royal, Patron of the English Rural Housing Association, says: “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.”
In support of the guide, Peter Moore, Chair of the Rural Housing Alliance, said: “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, commented: “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: