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July 2014
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
Rural Housing Policy Review underway
Set up by Hastoe Housing Association, this important review is exploring what has changed since the production of key reports into rural affordable housing published 2005-2008 and what now needs to happen to assist delivery.  The review group is chaired by Lord Best and includes authors of these key reports, Lord Matthew Taylor and Elinor Goodman, plus movers and shakers of rural affordable housing delivery from across the country.  Findings of the review will inform recommendations to national policy makers and assist those responsible for delivery.
The review has already sought input from local authorities and has held a joint meeting with the Rural Housing Alliance.  The Group is now asking for views from Parish Councils.  It is interested in the factors that encourage and deter parish councils from engaging in the delivery of rural affordable housing.  A short questionnaire for Parish Councils can be accessed via this link
Anyone else interested in submitting views to the review should contact Jo Lavis, the review coordinator at

Midlands Rural Housing appointed as Rural Housing Enabler Strategic Partner for Leicestershire
The Leicestershire partnership of six rural local authorities, the county council, parish councils, local communities and partner registered providers will utilise Midlands Rural’s experience and expertise to assess housing need and work towards local housing solutions where needs exist.

Affordable Housing - A Guide for Parish Councils
The Rural Housing Alliance is updating its practical guide, first produced in 2010.  The guide has proved a great way to allow Parish Councils to begin to understand how they can get much needed affordable homes built in the places they want.  The current guide has proved incredibly popular and, with the changes of recent years, the Alliance is keen to ensure that a simple and practical guide is in place to help Parish Councils deliver new homes.  The updated Guide will be published in the autumn of 2014.  Register to receive an electronic copy of the guide by emailing Andy Dean now.

New programmes launched by national CLT network
On 4 June the independent National CLT Network was launched, the official charity for Community Land Trusts in England and Wales.  For the past three and a half years the Network has been incubated at the National Housing Federation and has now stepped out in its own right - and to champion the cause of CLTs in communities across the country.

‘How to rent’ guide published by government
Housing Minister Kris Hopkins has launched a new on-the-move guide intended to give private rented sector tenants the need to know rental rights at their fingertips.
Mr Hopkins said that “encouraging a new generation of well-informed tenants with easy access to useful and understandable information would help root out the small minority of rogues and raise the game of any landlords who don’t know what is expected of them.”  
The new guide can be accessed here

Eden Independent Living: Getting it right for rural communities
In May, the Housing Learning & Improvement Network (LIN) published a case study which describes the transformation and development work of Eden Housing Association (EHA) in rural Cumbria, to reshape its housing support services for older people, and to develop a wider independent living offer.

RSN Manifesto for the 2015 General Election
RSN is working to produce a Manifesto document, which it will use ahead of the 2015 General Election to make the rural case across a range of topics.  The document will reflect the views of RSN members and has been discussed at meetings of the Rural Housing Alliance.  Consultation with RSN members on the detailed content of the Manifesto will take place later this year.  If you have any views which you wish to put forward please contact Andy Dean in the first instance.

Tackling fuel poverty in rural Warwickshire
Late in 2013 Warwickshire Rural Housing Association joined the Knowledge Exchange Partnership at De Montfort University to conduct a unique energy monitoring project.  The project aim is to help residents make best use of their energy usage within their homes now and in the future, saving money and raising vulnerable residents out of fuel poverty.
WRHA recruited 20 of its 500 resident households to take part in the project.  
You can find out more here

HCA publishes official housing statistics for 2013/14
The latest release on the supply of homes delivered by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) in England, excluding London, were released on Thursday 12 June 2014.  
Key points include:

Threat to affordable rural homes!
Government proposals threaten to reduce the delivery of much needed affordable housing in the countryside.  This warning was issued by the Rural Services Network, the Rural Housing Alliance and others in response to a government consultation on a proposed 10-unit threshold for section 106 affordable housing contributions.
If implemented, the proposal would significantly impact on delivery with communities of less than 3,000 population currently heavily reliant on section 106 sites to achieve new affordable homes.

Peak District’s first CLT scheme on site
Youlgrave is one of the most popular villages in the Peak District.  High property prices give little chance for local young people to make their homes in the village.  Working with Peak District Rural Housing Association and Derbyshire Dales Council, a Community Land Trust has been formed to build 4 three-bedroom houses, 2 two-bedroom houses and 2 two-bedroom bungalows for rent and shared ownership.  A Village Green application delayed the project which finally started on site in March 2014.  The code 4 sustainable homes will be completed in March 2015 and a community orchard will also be provided. 
Read more here

Rural Housing Week 2014
Publication of this edition of the Rural Housing Spotlight has been timed as part of Rural Housing Week 2014 (30 June to 6 July).  The aim of the week is to highlight rural housing issues and to showcase the great projects that housing associations have delivered to tackle these problems. This is an excellent opportunity to shine a spotlight on issues affecting rural communities, which is particularly important in the run up to next year’s General Election.

New homes benefit rural Northamptonshire residents
Working closely with the Parish Council, Northamptonshire Rural Housing Association has completed 6 new affordable rent homes in the village of Collyweston. Sheila Barr is one of the new residents.  Living in private rented accommodation in Corby since she was widowed, Sheila was keen to be closer to her family in Collyweston and declining health meant she needed a home which suited her limited mobility.  Sheila now has that home. 
Read more here

Rural Alliance Pledge
Members of the Rural Housing Alliance signed up to the Rural Pledge in March 2011.  Launched with the National Housing Federation this pledge remains highly relevant and contains the following commitments:

Funding for community led projects
This is a £14 million revenue funding programme which helps communities to achieve their development ambitions for their local area. The fund will provide revenue funding to help community groups to build their capacity to either submit a Community Right to Build order, which is an alternative way for communities to deliver the development they want – be it homes, shops, businesses or facilities – where the benefits of the development will be retained by the community for the community, or to apply for planning permission.
Forward to Friend
 Joint Working 

The Chartered Institute of Housing and RSN are working 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 here
Next on the partnership agenda with CIH is a focus on rural responses to the increasingly ageing population.  Watch this space for more information.
 Influence in Westminster 

The Rural Services All Party Parliamentary Group 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.  The APPG has agreed to receive regular statistical updates on rural housing issues.  These updates will need to be very focussed and concise in order to achieve maximum impact.  If you have any views on which statistics should best be utilised please let Andy Dean know as soon as possible.
 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 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
Housing and External Funding
07872 373191
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