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July 2015
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.
The RSN Rural Conference 2015: Aspiration to Action...The Rural Manifesto
We are pleased to announce the launch of the Rural Conference 2015: Aspiration to Action...The Rural Manifesto. It is being held this year at Park Campus, Cheltenham on Tuesday 8th and Wednesday 9th September. 
For further details and to book your place please click here
A focus for rural housing
Rural Housing Week is here!
Rural Housing Week 2015 runs until Friday this week. This annual event aims to demonstrate the important role affordable housing plays in maintaining rural communities.  Housing associations, parish councils and other rural groups and organisations are highlighting rural housing issues via many routes including through exhibitions in local libraries, debates, coffee mornings and visits to rural schemes. Endorsed by the Rural Housing Alliance and coordinated by the National Housing Federation, you can find out more by following this link or contacting Monica Burns at the Federation

National Rural Housing Conference 2015
Following the success of the Rural Housing Alliance inaugural 2014 conference in Cheltenham, the 2015 national conference aims to highlight the issues and potential solutions for rural affordable housing at the heart of Westminster. Supported by the Rural Services Network, the conference takes place on 9 July in the House of Lords and is fully booked. The audience will hear and debate presentations from a range of national and local points of view. All presentations will be on the RSN website very shortly after the conference.
PM and Chancellor announce plans to accelerate house building
In a Press Release on 4 July, together with an article in the Times, the Prime Minister and Chancellor state that they "are determined to reward hard work across society and help people into their own homes – and will press ahead with plans to give housing association tenants the chance to buy their own home, benefitting from a discount of up to 70% when they do so."
"It's simple," they go on to say, "you are either pro-reform or not; for building homes, or not; on the side of young people, or not. We know our position. As a one nation government, we will always be squarely on the side of those who want to get on."


Right to Buy proposals a disaster for rural communities
As part of its Housing Bill the Government is proposing to extend the Right To Buy to Housing Association tenants and require that local authorities dispose of high value vacant council houses to fund extended discounts and build more affordable homes in the area. Many organisations and individuals are lobbying vigorously on this matter which will have a dramatic effect on the provision of rural affordable homes. Key issues include: the effect Right To Buy will have on landowners propensity to provide sites for affordable homes; significant undermining of extensive work with local communities based on homes being made available for local people in perpetuity; the lack of any local authority homes in areas where all stock has been transferred meaning that the proposed source of funds to pay for replacement stock will not exist; the long history of a failure to replace homes lost under existing Right To Buy measures; and the under-mining of rural exception site policy.

Rich ghettos: the rural housing crisis no one is talking about
Mark Shucksmith, Director Newcastle Institute for Social Renewal at Newcastle Unversity, has published an article which explains:
"Britain's countryside is becoming ever more socially exclusive as spiralling house prices turn once-normal villages into rich ghettos. Contrary to the popular imagination, few of the cast of The Archers could now afford to live in Ambridge, or anywhere else in rural Britain for that matter. It's getting ever harder for people on medium and lower incomes to buy a first home, and there is very little so-called 'affordable housing'. The proposed extension of the Right to Buy to tenants of housing associations will only make matters much worse."
You can read the full article here.

Well dressing celebrates new housing scheme
Eight new affordable homes in the Derbyshire village of Youlgrave have been celebrated with a tradition thought to have its roots in Roman times. The well dressing celebrating Hannah Bowman Way was designed by local man, Phil Smith around the biblical quote 'Love thy neighbour as oneself'.
Alison Clamp explains how real determination was needed to bring this scheme to fruition: "The scheme of 6 houses and 2 bungalows is the result of a close partnership between ourselves, Peak District Rural Housing Association, our development partners emh group and Youlgrave Community Land Trust.


Hastoe signs up to Diversity Challenge
In a report launched at the end of June, the Chartered Institute of Housing's Presidential Commission on Leadership and Diversity is making a series of challenges to the housing sector. The report calls on housing organisations to sign up to and deliver against 10 challenges by 2020, and Hastoe Group has been amongst the first to sign up. The challenges include:

New website for CLT Network
The National Community Land Trust (CLT) Network has launched a new website accessible here. You can access a range of information and resources including looking up CLTs near you, finding out about different forms of funding available and getting guidance on setting up a CLT.

Staffordshire Rural Exception scheme officially opens
8 July 2015 sees the opening of a new £2.2 million affordable homes scheme by Stafford and Rural Homes in Swynnerton. Developed in close partnership with the Parish Council and Seddon Construction, this project has transformed a rural exception site which was the former location of Swynnerton RC Primary School into brand new affordable homes.

Help The Homeless Grants
Help The Homeless's main funding remit is the regular allocation of Small Grants (generally up to £3000) for capital costs to small and medium-sized charities (those with a turnover of up to £1m per annum). Grants to larger charities will only be considered if the project is suitably innovative and it is only possible for a large organisation to develop it. All applications must relate to projects that assist individuals in their return to mainstream society, rather than simply offer shelter or other forms of sustenance.
There are quarterly deadlines for applications each year. The nest deadline is 30 September 2015. Further details can be accessed here.

Public Works Loan Board funds Beer homes
7 affordable houses have been developed in Beer, a small coastal village in East Devon where second homes and holiday lets make it almost impossible for local people, old and young, to stay or return to the village. The only site available was on the open market with planning permission for 3 affordable and 4 market homes. Once Beer CLT had prepared a business plan, they approached the district council and obtained a loan via the Public Works Loan Board to cover the full site purchase and development cost. The loan was as 1.9% for 36 months.

New homes keeping people together in Shropshire
Shropshire Housing Group is celebrating the completion of its four-year development plan, which has seen 200 new homes built across Shropshire and Herefordshire.
Comprising a mix of homes to rent as well as properties for full and shared ownership; the group has fulfilled its goal to build in rural areas most in need of affordable housing.
Whenever it builds new developments, Shropshire Housing Group adopts a collaborative approach between the local community, parish and town councils, itself and local authorities.


HARAH 10th Birthday Tour to celebrate success with North Hampshire villages
Rural housing partnership, the Hampshire Alliance for Rural Affordable Housing (known as HARAH), is being welcomed back to thriving rural affordable housing developments completed since its creation in 2005.
On Thursday 9th July, during Rural Housing Week, residents and parish representatives from four rural villages across Hart and Basingstoke and Deane districts will showcase the lasting benefits that rural homes have brought to their community. The HARAH 10th Birthday Bus Tour will make stops at rural affordable housing schemes in the Hampshire parishes of Eversley, Preston Candover, Upton Grey and South Warnborough.


Measuring social impact
The Rural Housing Alliance has been working on a practical approach to measuring social impact for rural Housing Associations. The approach, which recognises the significant impacts of providing affordable homes and related services, has been piloted with four Associations and a detailed guide will be produced later this year for use by all Alliance members with potential for wider application. Watch this space.
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 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.  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
Housing and External Funding
07872 373191
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