To mark the National Housing Federation’s Rural Housing Week (3rd-7th July), social housing provider Stonewater gave representatives from Chichester District Council, North Mundham Parish Council and other guests, a progress tour of a new development of 25 much-needed affordable homes off School Lane in Stoney Meadow, North Mundham.
Stonewater wanted to get involved in Rural Housing Week to highlight the challenges housing associations face in bringing important rural sites for affordable housing to fruition. The process is often more lengthy and complex than other development sites, with specific issues such as complimenting the character of the village; environmental and ecological considerations and the local demographic.
The new sensitively designed Stonewater development of six one-bed and four two-bed homes for affordable rent and seven two-bed, and eight three-bed family homes for low-cost shared ownership, is being built on a former agricultural site previously used for grazing. Its mature hedgerow borders are being retained as an ecology feature as well as to ensure the new development has a sense of place.
Three miles from Chichester town centre, the affordable homes which are being built by local housebuilders Hamlet Homes, are centrally located opposite the village hall, primary school and a large playing field. The development will also have two central public open spaces and a public art feature.
Stonewater is funding the affordable housing scheme which also received an additional contribution of £595,000 from the Homes and Communities Agency.
Shortage of affordable rural housing
With the average house in the area costing £410,771*, which is almost 15 times the average local annual salary, and average private rents more than a third (43%) of monthly wages, Stonewater sees an urgent need for affordable homes in rural communities like North Mundham where local people — particularly younger groups — are being forced out of the area because they cannott afford housing.
“This development in North Mundham is a perfect example of how sympathetically designed rural housing schemes can add real value to the community and fit in with the local building vernacular,” said Jonathan Layzell, Stonewater’s Executive Director for Development. “Affordable housing is vital to the health and long-term sustainability of our rural villages for future generations. But, these developments have to be the right type of housing, in the right location to stimulate growth, diversity and prosperity.
“Rural Housing Week highlights the important role housing associations like Stonewater are playing in keeping our rural communities alive by providing responsibly-built affordable housing for key people including shopkeepers, teachers and farm workers, as well as nurses and carers who will be increasingly needed to support an aging rural population. We look forward to building more rural schemes like this one in other parts of the county where they are needed most.”
The Stoney Meadow development is one of many small new affordable housing developments Stonewater is creating in rural communities across England. Rural areas, which are settlements with a population under 10,000, support 20% of the national population.
“Far too few homes are being built for local people across rural England and communities are disappearing as a result,” commented David Orr, Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation. “Housing associations like Stonewater are a key part of the solution to the rural housing crisis. Stonewater is a great example of how, with the right support, housing associations can build the homes local people and their rural communities so desperately need. I’m delighted that Rural Housing Week is shining a spotlight on the innovation of housing associations like Stonewater.”
Stonewater’s North Mundham development is due for completion in March 2018.
*Home Truths 2016/17 — National Housing Federation: the average house cost being almost 15 times greater than the average wage.