Tackling the rural housing crisis

December 19, 2014 10:00 am

new national guide for parish councils launched

Press release:

A new guide promoting affordable rural homes has been launched by the Rural Housing Alliance and Rural Services Network.

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.

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 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 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.”

Commenting on the importance of building affordable rural homes in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Peter Moore, Chief Executive of Cornwall Rural Housing Association said:-

“Cornwall Rural Housing Association has been working hard for many years to provide affordable rural homes throughout Cornwall and on the Isles of Scilly in partnership with parish councils and local communities.  This guide will help us with our work and we hope it will lead to more parish councils taking up the challenge, supporting the research and development of affordable rural homes for local people in their own community.”

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