This week is Rural Housing Week (6 July – 12 July), which aims to demonstrate the important role that housing associations, like GreenSquare, have in maintaining small rural communities, where the demand for housing is increasing at an alarming rate.
In 2014/15, in rural districts in England, there was a shortfall of nearly 11,000 affordable homes built, compared to those needed to keep up with projected demand. It is estimated that by 2021 more than a third of households in rural districts will be headed by someone over the age of 65.
Howard Toplis, GreenSquare’s chief executive, said: “There is a real shortage of affordable housing in rural areas across the country. Children are being forced to move away from the places they grow up in because they’re being priced out or because there simply aren’t any homes for them to move into.
“We know that there is a housing crisis in Britain and the fact is it affects rural areas as much as urban ones. Building more affordable homes in rural areas means that we are helping young people to put down roots in countryside locations, close to their friends and families, and alleviating the issue of increasingly ageing populations in these areas. Just a small number of affordable homes can also benefit the whole community and help to sustain local businesses and services.”
GreenSquare recently helped families who were forced to move away from the Oxfordshire village of Middle Barton – due to a shortage of affordable housing in the area – to move back, by completing 13 new homes there.
Charlotte Beale and her partner both grew up in Middle Barton, which is where their families still live, but have had to spend the past few years living in Banbury. Now the couple have been to move back to Middle Barton, something they’ve been longing to do since the birth of their twins, Phoebe and Oscar.
Charlotte explained: “We’re delighted to be able to move back to the area where we grew up, so we can raise our children in the same place and with the support of our families, who now live so close by. I can walk to the twins' grandparents’ homes in the village, which means they will be able to help me with child care when I return to work later this year.
“The fact that all the residents who’ve moved into the development grew up here, means that they already consider this village their home. A lot of us even knew each other already from living here before so there was an immediate sense of community. We are so pleased with the house, which is lovely and spacious. It’s warm and has a good-sized garden for the children to play in. And the view across the fields is fantastic!”
GreenSquare has recently completed a number of properties in rural areas in Oxfordshire, including: 5 properties in Enstone, 13 properties in Middle Barton, 19 properties in Chipping Norton, and 17 properties in Long Hanborough. People with a housing need, and those who had ties to the local area, such as immediate family living nearby, were given priority for these homes.
In Wiltshire, GreenSquare has numerous projects underway, including 4 new properties in Cherhill and 17 new homes in Kington St Michael.