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October 2016
A quarterly bulletin facilitated by your membership of the Rural Services Network and produced in partnership with the Rural Housing Alliance, highlighting a selection of current rural housing issues and opportunities.
A focus for rural housing
Brexit implications for the housing market
"The UK voted to leave the European Union in a referendum on the 23 June 2016. This decision will have an impact on a wide range of policy areas and industries, including the house building industry." So says a House of Commons Library briefing paper published in October 2016.
This paper summarises very early indications of the impact of the vote on the UK housing market and house building industry. The topics covered include:
• construction industry confidence;
• the housing market;
• house prices;
• house builders' shares;
• the labour market; and
• potential policy responses.
As reported in the paper, "The social housing sector has identified an opportunity arising out of the Brexit vote to press for the development of more housing at sub-market rents. The NHF has put an offer to the Government setting out the sector's readiness to build 'through the uncertain times following the vote to leave the EU' and has requested flexibility to invest in a variety of tenures. The sector is hopeful that the Autumn Statement 2016 will deliver on some of the funding flexibilities requested."
You can read the full paper here.

Passivhaus global first for National Park
Local residents have started to move into 18 new, first of a kind, Passivhaus eco-homes in the village of Christow, in Dartmoor National Park. The Stafford Close project has been led by the Christow Community Land Trust (CCLT), a voluntary collection of villagers, in partnership with local affordable housing provider, Teign Housing, Dartmoor National Park Authority and Teignbridge District Council. The eco-homes are the first Passivhaus homes to be built in a National Park anywhere in the world, 14 of which have been let as affordable housing to local people.
The Passivhaus standard of build means that energy bills will be as low as £50 a year for residents with clean, fresh air constantly circulating around their homes. Although they are relatively common in parts of Northern Europe, Passivhauses are still relatively new to the UK and in particular, making them available for affordable housing.

‘Cathy Come Home’ education pack available for schools and young people 
A group of housing associations that were formed in the Cathy Come Home era have come together to mark the 50th anniversary of Cathy Come Home and to highlight the continuing needs of homeless people. The Homes for Cathy group will be organising a range of local and national events and initiatives in the months leading up to and around the anniversary. They will be liaising with the National Housing Federation, Shelter, Crisis and other groups campaigning for homeless people and hope to work with the media, members of the House of Lords and the Cardboard Citizens Theatre workshop, amongst others.
The group has recently produced an education pack designed specifically for young people aged between 11 and 19. This consists of 4 modules:

Residents set to save on fuel bills in Shropshire
Work has begun on a £200,000 investment in rural Bishops Castle, South Shropshire which will see the residents of a block of flats in the town, benefit from renewable energy, lower fuel bills and more control over their heating and hot water. Shropshire Housing Group, which manages the twelve flats, is installing a ground source heat pump system and it is anticipated the work will be finished by the end of October, in time for the cold winter months.
Bernard Quinn, Assets Manager for SHG said: "We know from correspondence with our tenants across Shropshire and Herefordshire that it is becoming increasingly difficult for them to find the money to keep their homes warm. These residents have storage heaters that were installed 20 years ago and as part of our review into updating their heating and hot water we found that ground source heating was a far better alternative."
Ground source heating will ensure they enjoy a comfortable temperature year round, using only natural warmth drawn from the ground which is boosted using the same technology that keeps food cool inside a fridge, but in reverse.

Landowners can build their own affordable housing say CLA
Landowners should be encouraged to build and manage their own affordable housing in the countryside to help solve the housing crisis.
That was the message of CLA President Ross Murray ahead of this year's National Housing Federation conference. Mr Murray said landowners were keen to build and manage their own affordable housing and were best placed to deliver this because of their economic role within the community. However, he said there are not enough incentives to encourage more landowners to bring sites forward and manage them.

Rural exception site success in Staffordshire
The first residents have moved into properties at a £1 million housing scheme that's providing much-needed affordable homes in the village of Hixon, courtesy of a project led by Stafford and Rural Homes (SARH).
Karen Armitage, SARH Chief Executive, was joined by representatives of the Parish Council, Stafford Borough Council, contractors and local residents for a special launch event and a look around the development, which has been built on a rural exception site.
"The lack of affordable housing is a growing problem in many communities, particularly in rural areas," Karen explained. "Rural exception sites enable affordable homes to be built that will help to keep small communities in the countryside alive by enabling young and old alike to remain in villages where they have strong family connections.

£3 billion Homebuilding Fund launched
The Chancellor Philip Hammond and Communities Secretary Sajid Javid, have announced a new fund which will:
• provide £1 billion of short term loan funding - this will be used for small builders, custom builders, and innovators, delivering 25,000 homes in the short term
• it will also provide £2 billion of long term funding for infrastructure - this will be used to unlock a pipe line of up to 200,000 homes over the longer term – with the emphasis on developments on brownfield land.
You can read more here.

£40 million Homelessness Prevention programme announced
A new £40 million programme aimed at providing "an innovative approach to tackling homelessness, with prevention at its heart", has been announced by Prime Minister Theresa May and Communities Secretary Sajid Javid. This is described as "a fresh government approach to tackling homelessness by focusing on the underlying issues which can lead to somebody losing their home."

Autumn news from HARAH
The Autumn 2016 edition of HARAH News was published at the end of September with details of recent developments including 21 new homes in the Test Valley. The newsletter also profiles each of the 5 partners in the new 'Hampshire Village Homes' consortium forming HARAH's new development partner – Hastoe, English Rural, Winchester Housing Trust, PHA Homes and New Forest Villages Housing Association.
The newsletter also highlights the recent addition of South Downs National Park Authority to the HARAH partnership: "We are pleased to announce that from April 2016, South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA) has formally joined the HARAH partnership.

Teignbridge wins National Self Build Housing award
Teignbridge Council has been crowned 'Best Council for the Self/Custom Builders' accolade at the annual Build It awards. Teignbridge scooped the award for its pioneering work as the first council to adopt a Custom and Self Build Policy, including what's known as the 'Teignbridge Rule', where 5% of development on larger sites must be for self build. In addition, Teignbridge was recently invited to talk to councils in Scotland about its ground-breaking self build work.

Latest home ownership statistics published
A recent paper produced by the House of Commons Library provides statistics on home ownership by age, region and ethnicity, based on data from the Labour Force Survey.
Home ownership amongst the vast majority of age groups has fallen over the last five years. Home ownership rates have increased amongst households where the Head of Household (HoH) is aged 16-19 or aged 70 and over, but have fallen amongst all other groups. The biggest decline has occurred amongst households whose HoH is aged 30-34 years – a decline of 7.2 percentage points.

White Horse Housing – new name and brand for the future
Wiltshire Rural Housing Association has announced that it has "changed its name to reflect our expanded area of operation whilst creating a fresh new 'brand identity' to echo our long-term aims and objectives."
The Association, established 32 years ago, has a track record of providing high quality, affordable homes across rural villages in Wiltshire. However, following the Transfer of Engagements with Kilmersdon Rural Housing Association in October 2015, the area of operation expanded outside of the traditional Wiltshire boundaries. The Association now also have properties in the Mendip and Bath and North East Somerset areas too.
At the time of transfer the Association promised that it would look to change its name "to ensure our new tenants felt fully integrated with the organisation."

Rural housing case studies available on new website 
The Rural Housing Alliance has launched its own dedicated website with new branding to go with it. With details about all Alliance members, case studies and news, the website provides an easy point of reference for Alliance activities.
The site currently hosts 22 case studies from across the membership covering a range of topic areas. Links to all member websites are also included. The website can be viewed here.

Couple settle into dream home – shared ownership style
Gill and Steve Dimelow thought they would never get back on the housing ladder until they heard about a new development by Stafford and Rural Homes.
Set in the heart of the Staffordshire Countryside, Osborne Park includes a number of properties for shared ownership and they're now providing the ideal solution for many people who would otherwise be priced out of the housing market.
Gill and Steve were both divorcees when they met, and although they had been homeowners in the past, they thought they would never be in the position to buy a home together.
"We are both in our 50s and thought we would be too old to get a mortgage and resigned ourselves to living in private rental accommodation with all the uncertainty that brings," explained Gill, who works as a Medical Secretary at Stafford Hospital.

2016 National Rural Policy Conference makes case for ‘rural’ post Brexit
"Making the case for rural" was the central theme at this year's RSN national rural policy conference. Taking place in Cheltenham in September, the conference witnessed extensive debate the implications of the EU referendum result on rural England and how best to make the case for rural communities going forward. Presentations given at the conference by a diverse line up of speakers are available to view here.
Forward to Friend
 Joint Working 

The Chartered Institute of Housing and RSN aim to work in partnership to deliver more support for our members working in rural housing delivery and management. Our first joint survey of members highlighted again the great difference that local people can make in the ability to deliver more rural housing. As a response to that, we developed a short focused guide with top tips and help for professionals on how to work effectively with rural communities. This is available by following this link. Watch this space for more information on further joint working with CIH.
 Rural Alliance Pledge 

Members of the Rural Housing Alliance are all signed up to the Rural Pledge. Launched with the National Housing Federation in 2011, this pledge remains highly relevant and contains the following commitments:
•    Work closely with the local community and Parish Council to find the right site
•    Always give qualifying local people in housing need first priority for every home
•    Ensure that affordable homes always remain affordable
•    Build sensitively designed, high quality homes to high environmental standards
•    Provide good quality and locally sensitive management services to our residents
•    Always respond positively to the local community.
A copy of the Pledge can be viewed by following this link.
 Influence in Westminster 

The Rural Services APPG supported by RSN provides an excellent opportunity to put issues of the moment in front of MPs in the heart of Westminster and to seek to influence national debate.  In October 2014 the APPG focused solely on rural housing – specifically the importance of section 106 sites and local connection criteria. A further session of the APPG in November last year looked at shared ownership in rural communities. If you have any views on key topics which should be covered in future APPGs please contact Andy Dean.
 Keep calm and Join Up! 

RSN exists to enable the issues facing the rural areas of England to be identified, information and good practice to be shared and government to be challenged to address the needs and build on the opportunities which abound in rural areas.
If you know a rural housing organisation that would benefit from membership, please ask them to consider joining us. RSN is a solely rural focussed organisation with an electronic distribution network in excess of 40,000 individuals.  We reach right across all the rural areas of England and provide a sustained and respected voice for rural areas at national level. Anyone who wants to talk to us about our role and services in relation to rural housing should contact Andy Dean to find out more.
If you are a small housing organisation operating in rural England, you can have access to all the services of RSN for an annual subscription of just £250 plus VAT. RSN exists to share information, promote good practice and represent the voice of rural England at a national level. Check out the website for more information or contact Andy Dean to join up.
 Housing Observatory 

Balancing the housing market, improving the quality of housing stock, and enabling the provision of affordable housing are all key issues which concern rural local authorities.  These are often topical issues and the Housing section of the Observatory considers what the data available can tell us about the position in rural communities, and what challenges rural communities might face in the future.
For analysis and comment on key rural housing issues, click here.
 Spotlight Archive 

For an archive of the quarterly Rural Housing Spotlight newsletters which provides a medium for members to channel their concerns, highlight good practice and share thoughts on housing issues in their rural communities click here.
 Everything Housing 

We have developed a ‘hot topic’ section of our website, which provides a gathering of all rural housing information and displays it all in one place. This area provides the latest updates in our Rural Housing Service, our latest housing news articles, housing opinions - which includes case studies and best practice and housing in depth - including latest housing analysis we have produced.
To view the housing hot topic section click here
 Contact Details 

Andy Dean
Assistant Director
07872 373191
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