During Rural Housing Week the Rural Housing Alliance has praised Blenheim’s response to the urgent need for additional affordable housing in the country.
Rural Housing Week, which runs from 5th – 9th July, is an annual campaign organised by the Alliance to showcase the work housing associations and other organisations do to offer high quality affordable homes in rural communities.
As part of its new Park View development in Woodstock, Blenheim is making 50% of the homes available as affordable homes, which encompasses both affordable rent homes at 40% below market rent and shared ownership homes, where homeowners have the opportunity to staircase to 100%.
Jo Lavis, Director of Rural Housing Solutions said: “I was delighted to include Blenheim Estate’s Park View development in the Parish Councillors’ Guide to Rural Affordable Housing. It shows what can be achieved when an Estate marries its financial, business and property management expertise with a commitment to providing affordable homes to keep rural communities alive. This project is an inspiration and I hope a trail blazer for other large Estates”
Ursula Bennion, Chair of the Rural Housing Alliance agreed and commented: “The lack of affordable housing for local people in rural communities continues to be a real issue and often does not get the same national coverage as urban areas. Housing associations have been, and continue to be, the main providers of affordable housing in rural areas but we always welcome new entrants with a similar passion and ethos to deliver high quality homes. We welcome this new development by Blenheim Estate and hope it will inspire others”.
Blenheim Estate is exemplar in recognising and responding to rural affordable housing needs.
“In so doing they have developed a model that allows a financial return on investment in both financial terms and their objectives to support the local community,” continued Jo. “They worked closely with the local authority to identify a suitable site, agreeing the design and Section 106 agreement.
“Underpinning the scheme was extensive community engagement which used a range of techniques to reach and gain the views of all members of the community.”
Prior to construction, Blenheim undertook extensive community engagement through the development of a Community and Infrastructure Delivery Plan, which was supported by staff from Community First Oxfordshire.
It involved public consultation events, surveys, direct contact with local groups and targeted consultations with young people.
As part of its ongoing commitment Blenheim Estate Homes has also appointed a dedicated part-time community officer working within Woodstock.
“Blenheim has an absolute commitment to provide high quality, affordable properties for local people which will enable young families to remain and work within the local community,” said Blenheim Property Director and COO Roger File.
“Developments like those we are creating in Woodstock and Long Hanborough have been specifically designed to address the long-term issue of a lack of affordable housing within West Oxfordshire.”
The Rural Housing Alliance, which works in partnership with the Rural Services Network and National Housing Federation, is a group of housing associations that develop and manage affordable homes in rural areas across England. Their aim is to work together to share innovation, good practice and ideas, advocate the need for affordable rural homes and provide a unified voice on key issues.
For more information on Rural Housing Alliance please visit https://ruralhousingalliance.net/our-publications/
Header image shows rental properties at Blenheim’s popular Park View development in Woodstock.
This week Housing Plus Group’s new podcast put rural housing in the spotlight. You can find out more about the podcast and link to listen to the episode here.