Community Action Suffolk works with parish councils, local residents, housing associations, local councils and landowners to facilitate ways of meeting housing needs. Sunila Osborne, community development officer for Rural Housing, acts as the independent agent, smoothing the way between these parties. The Rural Housing project aims to increase the provision of housing for local needs in villages throughout the county. To promote balanced communities where people aren’t excluded and don’t have to move away because there isn’t any suitable or affordable accommodation.
The problem in rural areas
In recent years concern has grown over the future of village life where communities have been threatened because, among other things, local families have been unable to compete for increasingly scarce and expensive housing. Although the lack of affordable housing in rural communities has been a serious problem for many decades it has recently reached crisis point in many parts of the country where house prices have outstripped average incomes by very large margins. High house prices, the loss of council houses through right to buy and restrictive planning policies have all played their part in worsening the situation.
It is also recognised that those who own their own properties are finding it hard to remain in the village and find suitable accommodation.
What are Local Housing needs schemes?
These schemes are developed in partnership with parish councils, the district council and a housing association. These small housing developments are kept for local people in perpetuity and homes of all tenure types (majority affordable rent) built on them can never be sold on the open market. A legal document is drawn up under Section 106 Town and Country Planning Act 1990 between the district council and the housing association to ensure the houses are kept in perpetuity for local people and will state clearly who is eligible for housing in the new development. These restrictions do not affect any existing council or housing association property in the parish, or any open market homes built on exception site schemes.
For further information please contact Sunila Osborne at Community Action Suffolk: [email protected] / 01473 345400.