This week (4 to 8 July) is Rural Housing Week which shines a light on the challenges facing housing in rural communities, with rural economies likely to lag on key metrics such as pay, productivity, and infrastructure. The theme for Rural Housing Week 2022 is levelling up rural communities.
The District Council’s Rural Exceptions Housing developments are developments in which we have considered planning consent on sites (mostly in rural locations) which might not ordinarily be acceptable if affordable housing is provided and prioritised to people with a local connection. The sites do, however, need to be well related to the village - usually they are on the edges of the village close to existing housing.
This is supported by Policy LP28 of our Local Plan to 2036.
Executive Councillor for Jobs, Economy and Housing, Cllr Sam Wakeford, said: "To coincide with Rural Housing Week we are shining a light on some of the housing schemes that we are delivering and have enthusiastically supported across the rural districts of Huntingdonshire. It is key when developing housing in our district that we focus on creating healthy spaces and communities, ensuring that any new developments fit in with the local area that they are closely associated with. Our Rural Exception Housing Developments are created by working closely with town and parish councils and we are set to complete a number of schemes this year delivering affordable homes to residents, with the District Council having successfully delivered many schemes in the previous years. Most importantly these developments give opportunities to people living in our villages and allow them to remain in the place they grew up."
Currently, there are 3 sites under development:
1. The Green, Great Staughton
This is the result of close working between the council, Great Staughton Parish Council and Places for People. A Community Land Trust has been established by the parish council which means they will be closely involved in not only the development (being carried out by Chorus), but also the initial and subsequent allocation of the homes. It will deliver 10 homes for rent and 2 as shared ownership. It is expected to be completed in late summer/early autumn.
2. Buryfields, Bury
This is our largest exception site - 29 of the homes will be prioritised for people with a Bury connection. Overall, it will provide 54 homes, all of which are affordable housing. The additional ones will help to meet the affordable housing needs of the whole district.
3. Middlemoor, Ramsey St Mary
This is providing 11 affordable homes, 8 of which will be prioritised for Ramsey St Mary and the surrounding villages. The other 3 will be for district-wide need.
Last year (2021/22) a development of 11 affordable homes and 9 market homes was completed in Bluntisham.
For the future, planning consent has been secured for a development in Holme (6 affordable homes and 4 market homes) and we are just finalising the legal agreement to issue consent for Alconbury Weston (up to 15 homes with 9 expected to be affordable housing) and Hilton (up to 16 homes with 10 expected to be affordable homes). An application in Tilbrook has recently been submitted (4 affordable and 3 market homes) and there are other potential developments at an earlier stage which are being investigated.
Previously, we have provided Rural Exception developments in Abbotts Ripton, Farcet, Buckden, Upwood, Earith, Needingworth, Brington, Colne (see photo below), Warboys, Offord Cluny and Offord Darcy.