Affordable housing in rural areas boosted by launch of new scheme

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Affordable housing in rural areas boosted by launch of new scheme

Communities in Northamptonshire’s rural areas are set to benefit from a new package of government funding announced in November designed to unlock affordable housing opportunities.


The scheme, which is being delivered by Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE) on behalf of Defra, will help boost the supply of new, affordable homes across England. Northamptonshire ACRE, the local ACRE Network member, is one of the beneficiaries of the funding and will be developing a new role as a result. 

The funding comes from a national £2.5 million government fund to support the work of Rural Housing Enablers who broker conversations between residents, councils and builders about securing housing that meets local need.

The past few years have seen housing prices in the countryside rise at a quicker rate than in urban areas placing additional strain on household finances and forcing many people to move. In turn, this can affect the viability of local businesses and services.

According to recent government statistics, the most affordable homes in rural areas cost 8.8 times earnings compared to 7.6 times in urban areas (excluding London). A reduction in the number of private rental properties has also caused monthly rents to soar in the countryside since the pandemic.

This month the charity appointed Rural Officer Jenni Hedges, and Rural Fieldworker Claire Yow as Rural Housing Enablers. Jenni and Claire will be working closely with rural communities and are looking for innovative partnerships with Parish Councils, Registered Providers, the private sector and others to increase the pipeline of rural affordable housing schemes in Northamptonshire and to support delivery.

Elaine O’Leary, CEO Northamptonshire ACRE said ‘It is great news that the lack of affordable housing in rural areas is being addressed through this programme from Defra. Enabling local people to stay in the area they have grown up in helps towards making that community a stronger and more cohesive place to live. We look forward to working with partners to help bring new schemes forward that will be local homes for local people.’

Philippa Mckenna, Project Delivery Manager at Midlands Rural Housing said “We’re delighted to have been chosen as NACRE’s rural housing enabling partner for the coming year.  This essential funding from DEFRA has really helped to unlock a fantastic opportunity to widen the existing network of Rural Housing Enablers, and to create partnerships that will hopefully become long standing ones.   It’s so important for people to feel they are working with organisations who are also committed to understanding and responding to the needs of local communities in rural areas.”

Communities interested in exploring a small development of affordable homes for local people are encouraged to contact Northamptonshire ACRE’s Rural Housing Enabler, Jenni Hedges, for an initial conversation via [email protected]


For enquiries, please contact 

[email protected]

07761 701060



Notes to Editors

About Northamptonshire ACRE

We are an independent charity in Northamptonshire working exclusively with rural communities in the county and have a wealth of knowledge and expertise built up over 75 years about rural issues to support our work. We believe all rural communities should have the same advantages and chances as any urban community and we continue to advocate on their behalf to ensure that happens.


Whether a rural community wants help to develop a Neighbourhood Plan in order to have a say on future development, is looking at setting up a community shop, pub or transport scheme, needs advice on flood prevention or effective energy measures, wants dedicate support from our Village Halls Advisor or just wants to be part of our bulk buying scheme to get cheaper heating oil for off gas members, we can provide the support they need.


And as one of 38 Rural Community Councils across England, one in each county, which along with our national body, Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE), forms the ACRE Network, we have an  invaluable resource to call on if there is a query or issue we need additional support with.


About ACRE 

ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England) is a charity speaking up for and supporting rural communities. It is the national body of the ACRE Network, England’s largest rural grouping of charities which facilitate a wide range of community-led initiatives that encourage a culture of volunteering and mutual aid, reduce social isolation and loneliness, increase the supply of affordable housing, boost the local economy, and reduce impact on the environment.


About Defra

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is a department of His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom responsible for environmental protection, food production and standards, agriculture, fisheries and rural communities in the entire United Kingdom.