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Gloucestershire Campaign to Protect Rural England

Making it happen - More inspirational developments needed to meet rural social housing needs

Wednesday, 13 March 2019 10:11

Whittington Close, St Briavels, Forest of Dean Whittington Close, St Briavels, Forest of Dean

13 March 2019

CPRE Gloucestershire’s Rural Excellence Award 2019 Scheme is now open for nominations. The Awards panel are hoping to encourage nominations from teams of professionals who are tackling significant rural issues like affordable rented housing. ‘The example set by the 100% affordable housing development at Whittington Close, St Briavels, last year, is an inspirational illustration of the local District Council working with partners to provide nine rental properties, meeting an identified housing need,’ comments Richard Lloyd, Vice Chair of CPRE Gloucestershire.

CPRE reported that across England only 1330 rural homes for social rent were built in the year to April 2018. ‘More reforms and working partnerships, like that at St Briavels, are needed to deliver more homes for rent,’ continues Richard. At the present rate it would take 130 years to build enough homes to house the 173,500 rural families on council waiting lists. Working partnerships between councils, charities and builders can work. The story of St Briavels is proof of a community coming together to make it happen.

St Briavels illustrates how more joined up thinking is needed to meet the rural housing crisis. It was developed through a partnership between the Forest of Dean District Council and The Guinness Partnership alongside the Gloucestershire Rural Housing Partnership and St Briavels Parish Council. Guinness liaised with the parish council to ensure the community’s aspirations were fully realised. The design reflected the local vernacular and includes a number of attractive architectural details.

It takes time to bring different organisations, interested parties and the local community together to agree and develop housing to meet local needs. It can be done but it is not being done quickly enough. We asked some of those involved in St Briavels to give us their insight into the rural housing crisis. Jonathan Davies, of The Guinness Partnership responded, ‘A good start is appealing to local private landowners or parish councils to earmark land that would suit this kind of development. Along with Neighbourhood Plans and Housing Need Surveys, the parish council can be a catalyst for transforming housing prospects in rural communities. At St Briavels, Guinness has been able to put design quality at the heart of the project and adopted long-lasting and appealing materials that will ensure the scheme continues to look attractive in the future.’

Historically a significant amount of social housing was generated by philanthropy and this is still the case. Jonathan gave examples of local landowners who were prepared to ‘sell’ their land to a Guinness/local authority partnership to ensure appropriate rural rented housing for the local area. ‘Rural housing can benefit from the opportunities presented by a combination of philanthropy and excellent collaboration between all stakeholders. St Briavels is an outstanding example of making the most of such opportunities.’



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