Rural housing

Affordable Rural Housing

Rural housing can often be priced out of the reach of local people who may have been born in a rural area and wish to remain in it when their housing needs change. 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. Recently governments have defined Affordable Housing as housing that is available at up to 80% of the local market rent.  Whether or not you’re eligible depends on local incomes and local house prices.

Find out how our new Defra funded Rural Housing Enabler project is working with local communities and partners to increase the pipeline of affordable housing scheme in the county and help with the delivery.

So why is Affordable Housing necessary?

Over the past decade, rural house prices have nearly doubled.  Yet incomes have barely risen.  So, people living in rural areas find it increasingly hard to afford housing.

Young people are being priced out of rural England by rising housing costs and are moving elsewhere to raise their families,” said Gill Payne, the federation’s director of campaigns and neighbourhoods.

What will happen to the local shops and pubs, the village school, the small businesses that maintain rural economies, if there’s no-one left to keep them open? If we don’t start building more homes that ordinary families can afford, our treasured rural England will become the preserve of the old and wealthy.

230,000 new homes needed every year

In 2013 The Country Land & Business Association produced a report to look at key housing policy issues.  You can read and download the report here.

The report concluded that, in order to satisfy demand for housing in England, 230,000 new homes must be built each year before 2020.

Yet In 2016, the government conceded that this target would not be reached.

One way rural communities have tried to address this problem is by constructing affordable housing schemes:

  • These are houses built with a subsidy from a housing association - for renting or for shared ownership.
  • Priority is given to households with a local connection.
  • The houses will remain affordable for local people in perpetuity.

However, the world never stands still.  The completion of an affordable housing scheme does not mean ‘problem solved - job done’.  There are always more local people looking for a home of their own.  Suitable housing should always be available for every group within the local community.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is affordable housing?

Affordable Homes are a way of helping people who can’t afford to buy or rent housing on the open market.  It’s the job of Housing Associations to provide Affordable Homes.

These might be for rent.  They might be to buy, through schemes such as New Build Homebuy (previously known as shared ownership).  This allows people to take out a mortgage on part of their home and pay rent on the rest.

What are Housing Associations?

They are independent, not-for-profit, government-regulated organisations that build and manage homes. They work alongside District Councils and other partners to house people who can’t find homesin the usual way.

What makes them affordable?

The houses are affordable because the government has set limits on the rents that housing associations can charge.  Depending on the size of the property, they are usually set at between £60-80 per week.

Can anyone apply for an affordable home?

Affordable Homes in villages are designed to meet the housing needs of local people.  For these schemes you need to have some kind of connection with the village.

  • Do you live in the village now?
  • Have you lived in the village recently?
  • Do you work in the village?
  • Do you have strong family connections to the village?

To be eligible for properties, you must register with your local District Council.  It’s also a good idea to register with a Housing Association.

What is a Housing Needs Survey?

A housing needs survey is sent to every household in the village and covers two main areas -

  1. Local residents’ views on affordable housing in their village.
  2. The current or future need for local affordable housing.

The results of the survey play an essential role in gaining planning permission. 

What will Affordable Homes look like?

All Affordable Homes are built to the same standards as open-market housing. The houses are designed to fit in with the existing dwellings in the village.

Next steps?

Need to know more about our Rural Enabler Housing project?
Would you like to take the first step to acquiring an affordable home for yourself?

Leave your details below or contact Jennifer Hedges or Claire Yow. Tel. 01604 765444or email [email protected]. We will be in touch to give you independent advice.