- Devon Community Housing Hub to receive DEFRA funding to help rural communities get affordable houses built.
- Rural Housing Enabling services to be expanded across Devon.
- Devon Communities Together to work with Devon Communities Housing Hub to provide improved help, support and advice for Parish Councils, Housing Associations, Local Authorities and community groups.
Devon Community Housing Hub has been awarded £97,000 to develop rural housing enabling services across Devon, with the aim of helping communities work towards developing affordable homes for local people.
Independent charity, Devon Communities Together (DCT), which co-ordinates the Devon Community Housing Hub, successfully applied for a portion of a £2.5m package from DEFRA, which will support a network of advisors who will work with communities to develop affordable housing schemes. The scheme, which is being delivered in conjunction with Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE), will help boost the supply of new, affordable homes across England.
Devon Community Housing Hub is a partnership of Devon housing providers and local authorities that has been helping local communities to develop affordable rural housing since 2001 (formerly known as the Devon Rural Housing Partnership). DCT will be working closely with Devon Community Housing Hub to build on work it already does. The new funding will allow the Hub to offer support to communities, including helping to assess housing needs in a parish; advice on the best way to deliver new houses that respond to local circumstances; helping to find suitable sites for new housing; advice on local planning processes; liaising with local partners including Local Authorities, Housing Associations and technical experts.
The new funding will also support community engagement in housing policy and delivery, including in relation to Neighbourhood Planning. For example, members of the DCT team recently worked with Tavistock Town Council to listen to the housing experiences of local residents. These case studies will be used as evidence for the Tavistock Neighbourhood Development Plan.
On behalf of Devon Community Housing Hub and other stakeholders, DCT will, thanks in part to the new funding, also be able to maintain up-to-date data on rural and affordable housing developments in Devon, and provide networking, shared learning and training opportunities for those working in the housing sector.
“Devon’s housing crisis is particularly acute in rural areas where house prices often outstrip local wages,” said Mandy Goddard, Project Manager at Devon Communities Together. “Those born and raised in a parish may find they can no longer afford to live there, while key workers such as health and social care professionals may struggle to find affordable accommodation close to where they work. If people and families are forced to move away from these rural communities to seek suitable homes, this has a knock-on effect on the diversity of our communities and the viability of local services.
“Often, communities themselves are in the best position to understand the need and develop their own housing schemes, whether that’s through Parish or District Councils, local Housing Associations or organisations such as Community Land Trusts. We’re pleased to be able to bring this £97,000 into Devon so we can support these groups to develop community-led, affordable housing for local people.”