Throughout Rural Housing Week it has been really interesting to interact with the many organisations, businesses and projects making a difference, in terms of providing affordable housing in rural communities across England. Using the ACRE Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts as well as the many events run this week, the ACRE Network has been in touch and made connections with an impressive and ever growing network of specialists. These organisations can help with advice and support for communities, local authorities and politicians looking to address the issues associated with a lack of housing – something which complements the work of the ACRE Network.
What is ACRE’s position on affordable rural housing? ACRE is concerned that communities are being weakened by a lack of affordable housing in rural areas, a consequence of high house prices and limited supply of homes built by housing associations and local authorities.
ACRE supports appropriate development in rural areas, especially the provision of affordable housing, so that communities can thrive. Appropriate development underpins local service delivery, helps local businesses to flourish and creates a local social framework; all fundamental to ensuring a good quality of life for those living in rural areas.
ACRE believes that there are four top priorities on which Government and national policy makers need to take action in order to encourage development in rural areas:
- Investment in technical support so that communities can share responsibility for meeting their own housing needs. For example, funding Rural Housing Enablers and community led housing advisers.
- Providing capital grant funding to build affordable homes in rural areas recognising the higher costs of developing these homes. This includes funding for both conventional delivery, by housing associations and community-led housing funded through the Community Housing Fund.
- Encouraging forms of affordable rural housing that are truly affordable to local people on low incomes and which remain affordable in perpetuity by maintaining protection from the Right to Buy.
- Investment in and support the development of Neighbourhood Plans so local communities can pro-actively engage in the planning process.
ACRE and representatives from the ACRE Network will be attending today’s Rural Housing Conference, being run by the National Housing Federation. The event provides an opportunity to show public support for the Federation’s 5* Plan, which challenges the sector to increase delivery of rural housing and continue to contribute to a living and working countryside. ACRE and other rural stakeholders have signed up as supportive partners for the plan and look forward to seeing the achievements it brings about.
As Rural Housing Week ends today, ACRE will continue to champion the ‘rural voice’ in national debate in terms of the provision of housing. As a member of the Rural Coalition, we have promoted the need for more affordable rural housing in yesterday’s statement release. The ACRE Network also provides a wealth of knowledge and experience that helps overcome many of the challenges faced by rural communities. Network members are uniquely placed to provide grassroots support for community groups and to contribute to evidence gathering to help national and local leaders improve rural proofing of policy to enable delivery of more affordable homes.