Winchester City Council supports Rural Housing Week

Rural Housing Week (11-17 July 2011) aims to highlight the need for affordable homes for local people in rural areas, and to show the positive social and economic impact upon villages of well designed rural housing.

Providing affordable housing for local people in the rural villages of the District is a corporate priority for Winchester City Council. Such housing enables local people to remain in the village where they were born, live, work, or to which they have another strong connection. This type of housing helps to retain the social and economic vibrancy of communities, maintain social networks and keep an important social mix of people. This in turn helps to support the viability of local amenities with a wide variety of people using schools, shops and pubs.

In the past two years 26 homes have been provided in the Winchester district for local people, 12 in Littleton and 14 in Swanmore. Both projects were provided through the HARAH partnership and involved close working between Winchester City Council, the Parish Councils, the Rural Housing Enabler and Hyde Housing Association as the developer. In addition, 9 homes for local people are due to be completed shortly in the village of Hambledon.

Winchester City Council has organised an event to coincide with Rural Housing Week to celebrate the start of work on 10 affordable homes for local people in West Meon. Local Meon Valley MP George Hollingbery will cut the first sod on 15 July.

There are currently 45 new homes for local people either in the process of being built or where building is about to start, with 20 in Wickham, 15 in Twyford and including the10 in West Meon.

Local affordable housing developments are built in the countryside under special planning provisions, known as rural exception sites as they are built as an exception to planning policy. The housing provided must be 100% affordable housing for people who have a strong local connection to the parish, having lived, worked or cared for family there over the years. Planning conditions also ensure they remain affordable in perpetuity.

Cllr Tony Coates, Portfolio Holder for Housing said, "Affordable local housing for local people is a key priority for the City Council and we hope to draw attention to the need for housing throughout this week. Other local housing schemes are in the pipeline as we are working with Parish Councils and our other partners to address the housing needs of local people living in the rural communities of Winchester District."

Rural Housing Week is being coordinated by the National Housing Federation’s South East and East regions. Around 22 events have been planned across the region.