Ten things you need to know about building affordable homes in a rural community

Is affordable housing something you think is needed in your rural community and you’re not sure where to start?

It can be a daunting process, especially if the world of housing is new to you. Here are 10 things you should know to make the start of your journey that much easier.

  1. Affordable housing is housing which is for sale or rent for those who cannot meet their needs on the open market. It consists of a range of tenures including affordable rent, social rent and shared ownership.
  2. A good supply of affordable homes is hugely beneficial to rural communties. They help people remain in the areas they grew up in. In turn this ensures local jobs are filled, local businesses are supported and a resilient community is built and maintained.
  3. Rural exception sites are a common delivery method for rural affordable housing. These are small sites within or on the edge of settlements that would not normally be used for housing. They are instead used to provide affordable housing to solely address the needs of the community.
  4. Homes built on rural exception sites remain affordable in perpetuity. This prevents any new affordable homes built in a community being lost down the line.
  5. Affordable homes in rural communities are often built, owned and managed by either a housing association or the local authority. Cambridgeshire ACRE works in partnership with many of these and can introduce you to possible partners should you want to progress with a scheme.
  6. Community-led housing is an alternative method to bring forward rural affordable homes that may be a good option for some communities. Eastern Community Homes is the community-led housing hub in the East of England and can advise on the options for community-led housing and whether they are right for a community.
  7. Parish councils and local residents are incredibly valuable in developing rural housing. At the end of the day, they are the experts of their local community and by being on board can help dispel myths, assure residents the scheme will be developed with them and keep the community involved and informed – communication is key in rural housing!
  8. Rural exception sites and community land trusts allow the community to be involved in decisions such as number and type of homes, the site for the homes and what the homes will look like.
  9. Investigating the need for affordable housing is a must. Housing needs surveys are almost always required on rural schemes to ensure that the development meets the needs of the community. This is achieved via a questionnaire sent to all residents of a parish to identify the amount of affordable housing needed and of what type it needs to be.
  10. Speak to your local rural housing enabler and community-led housing advisors. They are the experts in delivering rural affordable homes and will support you through the entire process. Contact the team at Eastern Community Homes.