Rural Housing Spotlight

The Rural Services Network is keen to provide an opportunity for its members to channel their concerns, highlight good practice and share thoughts on this critical area. This Rural Housing Spotlight is one mechanism for doing just that. The spotlight is facilitated by your membership of the Rural Services Network and produced in partnership with the Rural Housing Alliance, highlighting a selection of current rural housing issues and opportunities.


 Ruarl Housing - website

October 2017

HS-October-17-1The Rural Housing Alliance has welcomed Martin Collett, Operations Director at English Rural Housing Association as its new Chairman. The Alliance, which is supported by RSN, represents around 25 housing associations with a specific interest in delivering affordable rural homes through a community led approach outlined in the 'Rural Pledge'.
HS-October-17-2Over the past six months the Alliance has been working closely with the National Housing Federation and a range of other rural interest groups to develop and launch the 5-star plan for rural housing, which sets out a clear and innovative ambition to increase the scale of delivering affordable rural homes.

Commenting on his election as Chairman, Martin said: ''It's a great honour to be able to lead the Rural Housing Alliance and build on the excellent work of previous Chairmen. My term as tenure comes at an exciting but challenging time, with the launch of the 5-star plan providing a focus for momentum but during a period of continued economic and political uncertainty.
''I hope to be able to work with all members of the Alliance and our wider network of partners, to expand our reach of influence and ensure that the need to fund and deliver more affordable rural homes in partnership with local communities is supported by all.''

ACRE has published a Housing Position Paper, demonstrating support for 'appropriate' development of affordable housing in rural communities across England. Chris Cowcher of ACRE writes:
"At a time when the availability of housing plays a central role in sustaining villages and small market towns, ACRE wants to see the Government take the necessary steps to ensure that national and local plans are rural-proofed.

HS-October-17-3More than six decades after listeners became gripped by the fortunes of farming folk in The Archers, the real-life rural housing crisis arrived in Ambridge over the summer. Young voices protested that they can't afford to rent or buy a home in the village where they live and work. Meanwhile a proposed new housing development including affordable housing was greeted with alarm by others, concerned that it might change the culture of the village.
It is a situation being played out in rural communities across Britain and made all the more realistic thanks to the input of a housing provider with particular understanding of the challenges currently facing villages like Ambridge.

In advance of a debate scheduled for 12 October 2017 in the House of Lords on the availability and affordability of housing, the House of Lords library published a briefing paper covering key elements of government policy and commitments. You can read a copy of this paper here.

HS-October-17-4Specialist Lincolnshire-based housing provider LACE Housing has officially opened its brand new £2m affordable housing development, which includes its first ever holiday apartment.
Chapman Court, comprising 17 affordable retirement apartments and a holiday home for older people, is situated on Scarbrough Avenue in Skegness and was formally unveiled on the 12th September.
The development, which is LACE Housing's first new scheme in Skegness for 20 years, replaces the former Sea Breezes Residential Care Home which had been derelict for two years and is named in memory of the late Ron Chapman. Ron was an experienced lifeboat crew member, serving Skegness RNLI for 39 years, and the RNLI is LACE Housing's chosen charity for 2017.

HS-October-17-5Work has been completed on the installation of Ground Source Heat Pumps at two locations in Cleobury Mortimer. The £500k investment in Cleobury will see the residents benefit from renewable energy, which should lead to lower fuel bills and more control over their heating and hot water.
South Shropshire Housing Association, part of Connexus Housing Group, has installed a ground source heat pump system and, as anticipated, the work is complete in time for the cold winter months.
Bernard Quinn, Investment Manager for Connexus said: "We know that our rural tenants are finding it increasingly difficult to find the money to keep their homes warm. The residents in this area had electric storage heaters and solid fuel back boilers; as part of our review into updating their heating and hot water we found that ground source heating was a far better alternative, and our residents agreed."

Government has confirmed that funding for affordable homes will be increased by a further £2 billion to more than £9 billion.
The government state that "The numbers of homes will be determined on type and location of housing, and bids received for funding. With a typical £80,000 subsidy, this £2 billion investment can supply around 25,000 more homes at rents affordable for local people. Ministers also confirmed plans to create a stable financial environment by setting a long term rent deal for councils and housing associations in England from 2020." This is designed to help encourage more investment in social housing.
Under the proposal, increases to social housing rents will be limited to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) plus 1% for 5 years from 2020. This is intended to give social tenants, councils and housing associations the security and certainty they need.
Previously, the government's affordable housing policy primarily supported 'affordable rent' – rents of up to 80% of local market level – and low-cost home ownership. This announcement now extends support for 'social rent' – which are lower rents, set according to national guidelines.
You can read more here.

An All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) inquiry is making the case for housing and care options in the countryside following new statistics on the need for more specialist homes.
New research from the Local Government Association (LGA) has found that an extra 400,000 specialist homes are needed to house older people across Britain within the next 20 years.
An inquiry by the APPG for Housing and Care for Older People is underway to consider housing and care options for older people in our rural areas.
Lord Richard Best, Co-Chair of the APPG and the inquiry, said: "The statistics released by the LGA are a striking realisation that this inquiry is crucial now more than ever to ensure we get housing options right for rural Britain's ageing population.
"The nation's villages are getting older every year, as young people and families leave and the proportion of older people increases. A quarter of the 11.4 million people living in predominantly rural areas are now over 65 years old – that's 2.8 million people.

A paper published by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) argues that the Government is continually failing to prioritise genuine local housing needs over market demand. This, CPRE argue, will "perpetuate the housing crisis while wasting precious countryside."
CPRE's Needless Demand report finds that 'housing need' and 'housing demand' are being conflated in planning policy, with the result that sheer numbers matter more than type and tenure of housing.

MPs, experts and stakeholders came together at an event organised by Hastoe Housing Association at the Conservative Party Conference to discuss how the successful continuation of rural communities can be ensured.
The key question at the heart of the debate was how to reverse the loss of young people from villages and ensure that rural life survives and thrives.
An expert panel was on hand to lead the debate, including:

Strutt & Parker and Rural Housing Solutions have produced a new guide which aims to help landowners navigate the process of delivering affordable housing on rural exception sites.
Rural exception sites are small plots of land which would not be considered appropriate for open market housing, but can be developed to provide affordable homes that meet the needs of local residents.
Strutt & Parker quote official government figures which show that, in 2015/16, only 3,696 affordable homes were built in villages (with a population under 3,000 people). Of these, just 1,020 were on rural exception sites. However, it is estimated that around 7,500 homes a year are needed in these smaller communities.
The aim of the guide is to demystify the process which can seem complicated to anyone who is not familiar with it, providing landowners with clear guidance on their options and what is involved.
You can access a copy of the guide here.

New research carried out by Housing Plus Group has revealed that local communities benefit by up to £11 for every £1 invested in affordable housing and retirement living accommodation.
The group, which works across Staffordshire and Shropshire has placed a value on the social return on investment for some of its major development projects, taking into account factors such as increased support for village schools and shops as well as reduced pressure on overstretched health services.
Some of the most significant social return on investment was recorded in areas around new Extra Care communities such as Pencric, in the Staffordshire village of Penkridge. The group invested £14m in the award-winning scheme, which was completed in 2014.

The Department for Communities and Local Government announced their continued commitment to neighbourhood planning on 22 September 2017, with around £5.5m allocated per year from 2018-2022 to provide expert support and advice through information services, grants and technical support packages.
You can find out more here.

July 2017

1The 5-star plan for rural housing which sets out am ambition to increase the supply of homes in partnership with local communities was officially launch during Rural Housing Week in July. Around 50 organisations have already signed-up to support the plan, including housing associations, rural community councils and local authorities, along with a range of influential national rural advocates and organisations including RSN. Working collaboratively, the Rural Housing Alliance and National Housing Federation plan to engage with existing supporters whilst continuing to promote the 5-star plan to a wider audience, aspiring to grow the momentum and achieve impact.
Martin Collett, who becomes chairman of the Rural Housing Alliance in October this year, said: "Those that haven't signed-up and want to find out more about the work can visit the Federation's website where full details are available. Supporters can also download a 5-star plan logo to use in publications. As stated at the Rural Housing Week conference, 'This is only the beginning' so watch this space and get supporting if you haven't yet done so!"

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Rural Housing Alliance

Working in Partnership
This information is produced in partnership with the Rural Housing Alliance.


Rural Alliance Pledge
Members of the Rural Housing Alliance are all signed up to the Rural Pledge. Launched with the National Housing Federation in 2011, this pledge remains highly relevant and contains the following commitments:
•    Work closely with the local community and Parish Council to find the right site
•    Always give qualifying local people in housing need first priority for every home
•    Ensure that affordable homes always remain affordable
•    Build sensitively designed, high quality homes to high environmental standards
•    Provide good quality and locally sensitive management services to our residents
•    Always respond positively to the local community.
A copy of the Pledge can be viewed by following this link.


Keep Calm and Join Up!
RSN exists to enable the issues facing the rural areas of England to be identified, information and good practice to be shared and government to be challenged to address the needs and build on the opportunities which abound in rural areas.

If you know a rural housing organisation that would benefit from membership, please ask them to consider joining us. RSN is a solely rural focussed organisation with an electronic distribution network in excess of 40,000 individuals. We reach right across all the rural areas of England and provide a sustained and respected voice for rural areas at national level. Anyone who wants to talk to us about our role and services in relation to rural housing should contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to find out more.

If you are a small housing organisation operating in rural England, you can have access to all the services of RSN for an annual subscription of just £250 plus VAT. RSN exists to share information, promote good practice and represent the voice of rural England at a national level. Check out the website for more information or contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to join up.



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Balancing the housing market, improving the quality of housing stock, and enabling the provision of affordable housing are all key issues which concern rural local authorities.  These are often topical issues and the Housing section of the Observatory considers what the data available can tell us about the position in rural communities, and what challenges rural communities might face in the future.
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For an archive of the quarterly Rural Housing Spotlight newsletters which provides a medium for members to channel their concerns, highlight good practice and share thoughts on housing issues in their rural communities click here.

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We have developed a ‘hot topic’ section of our website, which provides a gathering of all rural housing information and displays it all in one place. This area provides the latest updates in our Rural Housing Service, our latest housing news articles, housing opinions - which includes case studies and best practice and housing in depth - including latest housing analysis we have produced.
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