How We Build Rural Homes
Our developments provide a mixture of homes for rent and for shared ownership, with most schemes consisting of 6-10 properties. We currently build around 50 new homes annually. The majority of our homes are 2 or 3 bed houses, although some flats and bungalows have been provided where a need has been identified. On our older and existing schemes we charge a flat ground rent, unlike other Associations. With all schemes from April 2010 onwards we have adopted a current model which will see us collect a minimal rent on the unsold equity in our new properties for the very first time.
Restrictions also ensure that our properties can never be lost to the open market, in that our tenants do not have the Right to Buy nor the Right to Acquire and our shared owners can never own more than 80% of the equity.
The developments are managed in-house by a team of housing operatives and regionally based Housing Managers who deal specifically with certain developments. This ensures residents are supported both centrally and locally. Our service is assessed by the Tenant Services Authority and by our residents.
A full list of where we have built and examples of what our developments look like is available in our Find a Home Section.
Why do we need affordable housing?
The lack of affordable homes in small villages is a problem for many rural communities. Over the years we have observed the changing character of villages, so many of which have become populated by commuters and second home owners. Whilst this may bring money to the local economy, it also pushes up local property prices beyond the means of local people. As a result many are forced to move away, breaking up networks of family and friends.
We believe that villages should include a range of income earners and age groups. An affordable housing development is an essential ingredient in every village if we wish to maintain the social and economic health of rural communities which can be enjoyed by all.
Affordable housing developments help rural communities by;
Increasing the number of people supporting local services such as the village shop, the school, the pub, the church and the parish council
Providing homes for people who carry out essential local services
Keeping local family and friend networks together
Sustaining rural life
How does English Rural tackle the affordable homes problem?
Quantifying the problem
The first step in any project is to find out what the local community needs. In this context we usually work with independent specialists to carry out housing need surveys, in partnership with parish councils. With our partners we can then agree what the community needs and how best to provide it.
Finding a site
If a housing need for a particular village is proven, the next step is to find a suitable site. Historically we have used rural exceptions sites (parcels of land outside village development boundaries that would not normally achieve planning permission) as a way of securing affordable land for our projects. However, other sources of land are also considered, such as surplus areas owned by local authorities, parish councils, utility companies or religious bodies. We also work with developers, who under planning law have to provide quotas of affordable housing on certain open market sites.
Planning with the community
Once a suitable site has been identified, preliminary plans are drawn up and careful consideration is given to the type and style of housing. Community consultation is essential throughout the process and public events are held to display proposals to local residents. All comments are welcomed and considered before a planning application is submitted. Close consultation with Planning Officers throughout the process is also a key feature of our operation.
Finding the funds
In order to provide affordable housing, an injection of Social Housing Grant is required and the main source of this important funding is the Housing and Communities Agency, the government's housing agency. We are fortunate to have also had this funding provided by numerous local authorities.
English Rural Housing Association is also able to secure private borrowing in order to meet the costs of new developments.
We are happy to talk to Parish Councils, developers and other organisations and individuals about affordable housing projects. To discuss your ideas with us and see how we could help you, please contact us on 020 7820 7930 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will put you in touch with your nearest representative.