This blog is written by Philippa McKenna. She works for Midlands Rural Housing as Project Delivery Manager, which involves leading on the Rural Housing Enabling service and generating new business opportunities for our organisation.

Midlands Rural Housing is one of the leading providers of rural housing services in the UK.  They create sustainable, affordable homes so that diverse rural communities can not only survive but thrive.  They're part of EMH, one of the largest providers of affordable housing, care, and support services in the East Midlands. 

Why are new homes needed in rural areas?

Across the country there’s a lack of affordable housing to rent or buy in many villages, and in some there’s none at all.  This causes hardship for people across the generations, young people just starting out on an independent life, families trying to provide for their children and older people who can no longer manage in their current home. Often, they are priced out of homes in their village and end up moving away.  For these people a new affordable home puts more than a roof over their heads, it also gives them a safe and secure place from which they can continue to be part of the community.

 

What is rural housing enabling?

My job includes collaborating with government organisations, developers, architects, builders, parish councils, local authorities, and housing providers to enable access to excellent affordable homes in the Midlands and beyond.  The work I do helps to ensure that parishes have the right balance of housing to sustain a vibrant community.  Any new housing should aim to meet local needs and be planned carefully to have a positive impact on the area.  By identifying the full range of housing needs for local people, future decisions and proactive action can be properly informed.

 

How do we identify what homes are needed?

We use Housing Need Surveys as a way of reaching out to local communities, to assess the extent of housing need local people might have, and to determine the home types and tenure required to meet those needs.  If a housing need is found, we then work with the Parish Council and local community to identify suitable land for that could be used to provide a Rural Exception Site.  These types of sites are unique in that any homes built can only be made available to people with a local connection to the village and subsequently held in perpetuity (forever) for local people.

 

What types of homes do we help deliver?

The homes that are provided because of our work are usually available for affordable or social rent.  These homes are owned by a Registered Provider (formerly known as Housing Associations) or the Local Authority.  Subject to affordability, Shared Ownership (part rent, part buy) or even full home ownership are other options that can be provided.  The people who then live in the new homes are those with an existing strong, local connection to the parish.  They may live in a specific community already, but their current home may no longer meet their requirements.  A good example of this is an older person who needs to downsize because they can no longer manage their present home.  Other examples include young people who want to move out of the family home and into their own home for the first time, or someone who does not live in the village, but has a permanent job there, and would benefit from living locally. 

 

Thanks to the funding allocated by DEFRA to members of the ACRE network, we’re now working with several partners, including Rural Action Derbyshire to support their ambitions to unlock opportunities across the East Midlands that will hopefully lead to more affordable housing in rural areas.  I’m very much looking forward to working with as many Parish Councils and residents as I can throughout the life of the partnership.
- Philippa McKenna