Rural Housing Week marked at much-needed affordable village development in West Sussex

Leading social housing provider Stonewater has marked Rural Housing Week (2-6 July) in Coldwaltham, West Sussex, by giving delivery partners, local councils and nearby St James’ School a sneak peek at its almost-complete new affordable rental housing development, Shackleton Close.

The new Stonewater homes are helping to meet a housing crisis in rural villages and towns where only eight per cent of housing is affordable compared with 20 per cent in main urban centres.

The Shackleton Close village scheme has been funded by Stonewater with an additional £142,888 grant-funding from Homes England (formerly the Homes and Communities Agency) and £100,000 from Horsham District Council.  Set for completion this summer, the sensitively designed development will provide a mix of four two-bedroom and four three-bedroom houses – all for low-cost affordable rent.

Stonewater’s new homes will be equipped with cost- and energy-saving systems including high levels of insulation, and as there is no mains gas in the village, Stonewater will also provide each home with liquid petroleum gas (LPG) central heating.

The new homes will be allocated through Horsham District Council with priority given to people who already have a local connection to the village area.

“At a time when the average rent in the Horsham district eats up well over a third of the average local wage**, more and more young people and families who have grown up in the village are finding themselves forced to move away to find a home they can afford,” says James Bradbury, Deputy Director of Development at Stonewater. “This has a devastating impact on the sustainability of village shops and local services which is evidenced by the closure of 31 post offices across the region in the past five years and 217 pubs between 2013 and 2016.

“These new affordable homes at Shackleton Close are a great example of how housing associations can work together with local authorities to tackle this problem, building village-friendly homes that local people can truly afford. These homes however, have to be the right type of housing, in the right location, to stimulate growth, diversity and long-term prosperity.”

Stonewater has worked closely with St James’ School during the construction and recently held a wood-carving event inviting the pupils to design the public art piece which will be installed at the development.

Monica Burns, External Affairs Manager for rural housing at the National Housing Federation, says: “Far too few homes are being built for local people and villages are dying as a result. Young people are moving to cities and often house prices are rocketing. Right across rural England, schools are shutting their doors to pupils. Post offices, which provide vital community services, are closing at a similar rate and countless pubs are serving their last ever orders to locals.

“It’s therefore very welcome news that housing associations like Stonewater are stemming this tide by building the new homes local people desperately need.”

Councillor Tricia Youtan, Cabinet Member for Community and Wellbeing at Horsham District Council, says: “We are pleased to have been able to support the delivery of this scheme in conjunction with Stonewater and Homes England.”

“In a District such as ours we need to ensure we are supporting rural communities to deliver much-needed affordable homes. When completed, this scheme will be a great addition to the Coldwaltham community. The properties look wonderful and are sympathetic to their surroundings.”

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