Community-led schemes bring much needed affordable housing to rural villages
To mark Rural Housing Week 2022 this week (Monday 4 July to Friday 8 July 2022), we’ll be showcasing the work we and our partners are undertaking to support our rural communities.
The challenges facing housing in rural communities remain significant, with rural economies lagging on key metrics such as pay, productivity and infrastructure. The need for levelling up rural areas is both urgent and necessary: the question is, how can housing associations play a leading role? With this in mind, the theme for Rural Housing Week 2022 is levelling up rural communities.
Rural Housing Week is an annual campaign that showcases the fantastic work housing associations do in rural communities, Rural Housing Week 2022 is our opportunity to highlight the many ways in which housing associations are working to support the levelling up agenda in rural areas.
Today we hear from Shropshire Towns and Rural Housing (STAR Housing), who are an Arms Length Management Organisation for Shropshire Council.
STAR Housing have begun work on developing more high quality and affordable housing in the villages of Whittington and Weston Rhyn. Both of these developments are due for completion in 2023.
This development will consist of 24 new affordable family homes, including two- and three-bedroom houses along with one- and two-bedroom bungalows. The new homes will be available for both affordable rent and shared ownership.
Sue Adams, Managing Director at STAR Housing, said:-
“The site presented a challenge for development due to its steep sloped positioning, which required careful design and collaboration between our development team, architect, engineer and the community. This latest development really demonstrates our continued commitment to providing affordable homes in areas that need them most.”
Ian Jones, a local councillor and Chair of the Steering Group for the development, said:-
“We are proud to add another stunning development to our collection of homes in Shropshire, which has been sensitively designed with the community in mind. I value the availability of low cost, affordable, quality housing in the area, and with growing demand, this community-led project is something we are very proud of.”
The Weston Rhyn development is delivering much needed housing for affordable rent and shared ownership properties within an independent living community. The independent living community is designed around the HAPPI principles (Housing our Ageing Population Panel for Innovation), with good circulation, flexible spaces, level access shower rooms, external mobility scooter stores for each home, a passenger lift and private winter garden (apartments) or patios (bungalows).
Residents will have the use of an attractive communal courtyard along with seating benches and communal low level planting beds. The site will offer contemporary thermal insulation and will include a low-carbon heating system of ground and air source pumps as alternatives to gas boilers. Select properties will also benefit from Solar PV panels to help reduce people’s energy bills.
Both of these projects were developed as community-Led Schemes, working with members of the local community to design properties that meet the local housing need and respond to the individual villages.
“Community-led housing enables ordinary people to instigate housebuilding projects that help better to meet local housing need at a locally affordable cost. Such housing gives communities an opportunity to shape the character of their built environment.” (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Community Led Housing report ,2021).
For our schemes in Weston Rhyn and Whittington, the formation of a community-led steering group has provided a platform for local members of the community to contribute towards design decisions, house types, tenure and arrangement of the properties to help minimise impact on neighbours whilst responding positively and sympathetically to their village. It was a great experience working with the steering groups, who were proactive and positive throughout and we think that this will show in the finished projects.