In late summer the Rural Coalition launched a report about a future for rural England in which every rural community can thrive. It recognises that everyone, wherever they live and work, needs a strong, confident and sustainable countryside.
The cost of homes in rural Wiltshire is unaffordable for many people with average house prices at nearly 12 times average earnings. So the need for affordable homes, a key part of a viable countryside, remains high as families and young people are priced out of villages. These changes are having a huge impact on rural life with the schools, shops and pubs that they help to support being closed.
Wiltshire Rural Housing Association seeks to provide high quality affordable homes which reflect the local vernacular and make a positive contribution to villages. Earlier this year we completed seven energy and water efficient affordable rented homes for local people in Whiteparish and we are now building on two more sites, at Corsley and Codford, the latter following up our successful scheme at Church Acre.
The association works closely with parish councils and Wiltshire and Swindon councils reflecting our belief that it is for local communities to play the major role in ensuring that villages continue to thrive.
We rely on finding suitable sites at low cost to which we add our funds and some grants to build homes that will permanently available at affordable rents. We are also exploring a new approach to producing low cost homes for sale for local people with properties available at below open market prices in perpetuity.
I hope that parish councils and landowners will respond to the challenge and, for the sake of future generations, work together to tackle the shortage of affordable homes.
If readers have ideas about how they can contribute please contact us.
Richard Kitson, Wiltshire Rural Housing Association