Building thriving communities with rural homes
With affordable homes still in short supply, the week aims to shine a light on developers that are making a difference in this area.
One such organisation is Shropshire Housing Group, who this week will meet with parish councillors from across Shropshire and Herefordshire to discuss what their particular parish needs; not just in terms of housing but also other local amenities and how the group can help them achieve those ambitions.
Paul Sutton, Executive Director for Assets and Development at Shropshire Housing Groups says: “Rural housing can be welcomed or fiercely opposed. It’s vital to ensure villages and small towns are not over developed, that communities retain their rural identity and provide homes for the people who want to live there, some of whom have been living there for generations.”
Shropshire Housing Group has a unique approach to rural development, which puts the community at the heart of any plans. Over the last four years, the group has built 200 new homes built across Shropshire and Herefordshire, including villages such as Neenton, Orleton, Baschurch, Claverley, Onibury, Lyonshall and Hodnet. Now they have plans to build another 250 in the next five years.
Many of the homes have been managed under a community led, collaborative approach between the local community, parish and town councils, itself and local authorities. The community has a vital role to play by forming a steering group and attending open meetings, ensuring residents can participate in key decision making.
Comprising a mix of homes to rent, as well as properties shared ownership; the group has fulfilled its goal to build in rural areas and in doing so addressed the requirement for much needed affordable housing.
Jemma Deakin-Conlon who moved into a new home in Orleton says: ‘I’m from the village and two of my three children go to the local school. Our new home is really spacious and the finish is excellent, they’ve thought of everything.”
Mrs Embry who lives in a new apartment in, Baschurch said: “I am really pleased with my new apartment. It’s wonderful to be living in such a great development which is close to my family and all local amenities.”
Sustaining a community isn’t just about new housing stock though and Shropshire Housing Group can offer rural communities a real lifeline when it comes to local services.
Paul Sutton added: “We’re asking parish councillors this week what their village or town needs in addition to new homes and how we can help them achieve it. Neenton is a great example of how we helped put the heart back into a community. We built 7 new homes there, two of which we retained as shared ownership properties for local people and the other five were sold on the open market. The profits from the sale of those five homes were used to fund the renovation of The Pheasant pub, which has been unoccupied since 2006 and to support it’s reopening in community hands.”
John Pickup from Neenton Community Society said ‘"The vision, commitment and willingness to explore innovative ideas to help our community regenerate has been quite remarkable and sustained throughout.”
Paul Sutton concluded: Sympathetic, community driven new homes can deliver much needed housing in rural areas but they also provide the opportunity to breathe new life into a village, enhance local services and ensure it thrives for many, many years to come.