Rural affordable housing is vital to the sustainability of our communities

3 July 2017 | 3 July 2017

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Rural Housing week is taking place between the 3-7 July. Organised and promoted by the NHF, the aim of the event is to highlight rural housing issues faced by communities. The event provides an opportunity for housing associations to showcase their developments and innovations that are helping support housing delivery in rural locations to ensure a good supply of affordable housing in the countryside.

Once again, as part of rural housing week, Sovereign is proud to promote the associations ongoing commitment to supporting rural communities which has helped deliver much needed housing throughout our operating area. Through partnerships such as the Oxford Rural Housing Partnership, we have developed over 150 rural homes throughout Oxfordshire and continue to develop sites like our current development at Kingham in West Oxfordshire which is due to complete in October this year.

Working in partnership with West Oxfordshire District Council, Sovereign secured planning for ten homes which will be let at affordable rent. The site was purchased by Sovereign and the development was given planning permission as a rural exception site. This means that the homes will be occupied by families that can show a local connection to the village. The design of the scheme was carried out in consultation with local residents and has the full support of the Parish Council.

Similarly, another of Sovereign’s current rural developments at Meonstoke near Winchester is being developed on greenfield land that Sovereign already owned. Supported by local residents and the Parish Council, Sovereign applied for planning permission to build six affordable properties which are due to complete in August.

Both the Kingham site and that at Meonstoke were developed in close partnership with the local communities to make sure that the sites provided the right sort of homes to meet the local need. Working closely with the Rural Housing Enablers and Local Authorities has ensured that the developments will meet the housing needs that were identified by carrying out a Housing Needs Survey which is a crucial part of any rural exception site (RES).

In addition to RES, Sovereign has been able to develop redundant garage sites and convert the land for use as affordable housing. A recent example of this is our development in the village of Lambourn in West Berkshire. Located on the banks of the River Lambourn with views towards the North Wessex Downs, the site has been developed to provide five properties for affordable rent. These completed on 16 June and families moved in the same week. This demand helps prove the current need for good quality affordable housing which exists in our rural communities.

As evidence of the association’s ongoing commitment to the provision of rural housing, Sovereign has agreed to sign up to the NHF’s “Rural Housing 5-star plan” which will be officially launched at the Rural Housing Conference on 7 July.

The plan provides a challenge to those associations that support the development of rural housing, with a commitment to continue developing affordable rural housing as well as helping to maintain a living and working countryside.