Tuesday, 12 July 2016 08:33

Rural homes help create thriving communities

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Rural homes help create thriving communities

THE need to improve the provision of homes for countryside communities is being highlighted during Rural Housing Week.

With affordable homes still in short supply, the week (11-17 July) aims to shine a light on developers who are making a difference in rural areas.

It comes as the Rural Housing Alliance – which brings together organisations with an interest in rural housing – launched a new website highlighting its work.

One member organisation is Shropshire Housing Group, met parish councillors from across Shropshire and Herefordshire to discuss what their particular parish needs – not just in terms of housing but other local amenities too.

Paul Sutton, executive director for assets and development at Shropshire Housing Groups said: "Rural housing can be welcomed or fiercely opposed.

"It is vital to ensure villages and small towns are not over developed, that communities retain their rural identity and provide homes for the people who want to live there, some of whom have been living there for generations."

Shropshire Housing Group puts the community at the heart of any plans.

Over the last four years, it has built 200 new homes built across Shropshire and Herefordshire, including villages such as Neenton, Orleton, Baschurch, Claverley, Onibury, Lyonshall and Hodnet.

Now they have plans to build another 250 in the next five years.

Many of the homes have been managed under a community led, collaborative approach between the local community, parish and town councils, itself and local authorities.

The community has a vital role to play by forming a steering group and attending open meetings, ensuring residents can participate in key decision making.

Comprising a mix of homes to rent, as well as properties shared ownership; the group has fulfilled its goal to build in rural areas and in doing so addressed the requirement for much needed affordable housing.

Jemma Deakin-Conlon who moved into a new home in Orleton said: 'I'm from the village and two of my three children go to the local school. Our new home is really spacious and the finish is excellent, they've thought of everything."

Sustaining a community isn't just about new housing stock though and Shropshire Housing Group offers rural communities a lifeline when it comes to local services.

Mr Sutton added: "We're asking parish councillors this week what their village or town needs in addition to new homes and how we can help them achieve it. Neenton is a great example of how we helped put the heart back into a community.

We built 7 new homes there, two of which we retained as shared ownership properties for local people and the other five were sold on the open market.

The profits from the sale of those five homes were used to fund the renovation of The Pheasant pub, which has been unoccupied since 2006 and to support it's reopening in community hands."

John Pickup from Neenton Community Society said '"The vision, commitment and willingness to explore innovative ideas to help our community regenerate has been quite remarkable and sustained throughout."

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