Royal encouragement for rural homes

The Princess Royal will deliver a keynote speech on affordable rural housing at a national landowner conference.

Landowners have a key role in the delivery of affordable rural housing, conference delegates attending the event will be told.

Jointly organised by the National Housing Federation and Rural Housing Alliance, the one-day conference is being held in Cheltenham on Monday, 16 October.

The Princess Royal will address delegates in her capacity as patron of the English Rural Housing Association.

Delegates will also hear from a range of speakers and take part in interactive discussions covering planning, tax, community involvement and development innovation.

The conference follows the successful launch of a five-star plan for rural housing, which aims to increase the supply of affordable rural homes by 6% each year for the next five years.

The plan focuses on encouraging a community-led approach and supporting the local economy, including the food and farming industry.

It has secured widespread support from affordable housing providers and rural interest groups, including the Rural Services Network and the Country Land and Business Association.

RSN chief executive Graham Biggs said: "The lack of affordable rural housing has been a long-standing concern across our membership, including rural residents and local authorities.

“We have an excellent working partnership with both the Rural Housing Alliance and National Housing Federation and the focus of this conference on the key role of landowners is very welcome.”

The lack of affordable homes is a problem affecting the wellbeing of rural communities across England and the supply of land for housing is a restricting factor.

Higher property values, limited investment in delivering affordable homes, and migration of high income households to rural areas have all contributed to the current crisis.

Many local households who are critical to the welfare of their communities are forced to move due to the lack of suitable or affordable accommodation.

The conference will consider the potential for increased partnership between affordable housing providers and landowners.

It will identify areas of good practice, innovation and opportunities for the future.

All of these are seen as critical given the reduced availability of public investment and the marginalisation of rural influences within the policy making process.

Gill Payne, of the National Housing Federation, said: “Landowners are essential partners when it comes to securing new affordable village homes.

“Exploring how we can strike the right partnership with landowners – which encourages them to bring sites forward and secures affordable housing developments – is essential.”

Rural Housing Alliance chairman Martin Collett said it was important that rural interest groups worked together for the broader benefit of the rural communities they supported.

The event is being Chaired by BBC Countryfile Presenter, Tom Heap and attended by landowners and affordable housing providers.


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