English Rural attended an information/consultation event in the village of Shepherdswell, Kent, on 25th January 2020.
The event was an opportunity for the local Community Land Trust (CLT) to update the community on progress of the local needs housing project. English Rural was introduced as the partner working with the CLT to build and manage the homes. Preliminary plans of the proposed development were discussed:
Information boards highlighted the history of the site search procedure (covering the last three years) and how the chosen site adjacent to the village (and owned by the Church Commissioners) was eventually chosen as the only suitable location. More information about the CLT was available and the community were given the opportunity to buy a ‘share’ to become a member of the CLT. It was also an opportunity to highlight an updated housing needs survey that is currently underway in the village as the previous survey was out of date.
The event was well-attended and, on the whole, supportive. Several local people were keen that the development be as sustainable as possible and wanted to discuss what features might be included in the development to support this.
Consultation events such as this highights need for affordable homes for local people in Shepherdwell. Like many rural areas, villages across Kent have been affected by higher than average property values and lower than average wages, making it unaffordable for many local people to remain within their home communities close to family and support networks. To illustrate, a local mother of two children (an 18-year old son with autism and an eight-year old daughter) are currently living in a two-bedroom flat in a nearby village. Having the opportunity to relocate to Shepherdswell, where the mother’s parents and siblings live, will enable them to support her with her family’s needs.
Commenting on the event, English Rural’s Senior Development Manager, Alison Thompson, said:
“Consultations with local people help to promote the value that small-scale affordable housing developments can bring to villages like Shepherdswell, providing well-designed homes in partnership with and for the benefit of the community. Affordable rural developments provide a secure and safe place for local people to live, in the communities they serve and support. Affordable homes at Shepherdswell would play an important role in safeguarding a vibrant, active and working village that includes a mixture of age groups and income earners. We always welcome the opportunity to work with other villages to support them with developing their own affordable homes for local people.”