Celebrating Rural Housing Week 2019

Wonston eventHARAH celebrated national Rural Housing Week with two major events in Hampshire.

On Thursday 4 July Steve Brine MP, parish councillors from across Hampshire and other guests visited Harding Close in Sutton Scotney near Winchester. The 15 homes, a mix of 1, 2 and 3 bedroomed properties, were completed in 2018 and provide affordable housing for people living or working in the village. Four of the homes are for low cost shared ownership, with the rest being for rent, with the land provided by Hampshire County Council.

Braishfield eventGuests heard from Councillor Lucy Dowson, how the Parish Council had worked closely with HARAH to address the need for affordable housing in the village. Every year, many schools, post offices, shops and pubs in rural villages close because young families can’t afford to stay living locally. HARAH provides homes that can help people stay local and keep Hampshire villages thriving.

Wonston site visitHARAH’s new Parish Champion, Jess Bond, gave guests a very honest account of the challenges facing local communities when they decide to provide new affordable homes. However, she emphasised the benefits for villages such as hers when the new homes are finished. Her experience is now being put to good use, talking to other parishes as they embark on the process.

Braishfield site visitAfter visiting the scheme and meeting residents, Steve Brine MP commented that it was clear that the people living in the homes were ‘building memories, which was obviously so special’. He also told guests that ‘local business needs the village to renew. This makes for a stronger community’.

Then on Friday 5 July more parish councillors visited Oak Close in Braishfield near Romsey. The 9 homes here, a mix of 1 and 2 bedroomed properties, were completed in 2015. Two of the homes are for low cost shared ownership, with the rest being for rent.

Guests heard from Councillor Peter White how the Parish Council had worked closely with HARAH over 7 years, to address the need for affordable housing in the village.

Guests also heard from Hampshire CPRE representative Dee Haas about the importance of providing the ‘right homes, in the right place’. Councillor Chris Goss from Pamber in North Hampshire, where a new housing scheme is just getting off the ground, told everyone ‘we would have got absolutely nowhere without HARAH…they are the experts’

After a tour of the scheme, with support from Sovereign Housing Association who manage the homes, guests joined representatives from HARAH, Test Valley Borough Council and the Parish Council for a cup of tea and some cake in the village hall.

Luke Bingham, Divisional Director East, Sovereign, said: 'We feel strongly about supporting rural communities, building and managing quality affordable rural homes that mean people with a connection to the area can live in the communities where they grew up. It was a pleasure to showcase our homes in Braishfield, and to spend time with HARAH, councillors and our residents'.

These 2 schemes form part of close to 500 homes built by HARAH (Hampshire Alliance for Rural Affordable Housing) since 2005. HARAH is a partnership of councils, housing associations, the national parks and charities in Hampshire. Homes for low cost rent and shared ownership have been provided in 50 villages across the county and provide accommodation for around 2000 people.

HARAH is always looking to work with Hampshire villages and are keen to talk to Parish Councils, and any landowners who have suitable land to provide much needed affordable homes.

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