Dunsfold, Surrey (October 7th, 2021) — HRH The Princess Royal visited the picturesque village of Dunsfold, Surrey, to officially open English Rural’s new affordable rural housing development. Recently completed, the small development of eight new homes at ‘Miller Lane’ provides four houses and two flats that will benefit local people. Two additional homes have been made available at Discounted Local Sale to cross-subsidise the affordable homes.
In a region where house values are 23 times the average local income, the homes have been made available at rents that are affordable to local people living, working in, or with close family connections to the village. Built in partnership with the local community, involving Dunsfold Parish Council, Waverley Borough Council and English Rural, this is the third scheme to be built in the village by English Rural, the first being completed in 1992.
Set in a designated area of great landscape value, Dunsfold includes common land, a cricket club, church, country pub, post office and an award-winning, community run village shop. The shop raised a fantastic amount of money from members of the local community and via grants from the Plunkett Foundation, Surrey Community Action, Surrey County Council and Dunsfold Parish Council plus a linked loan from the Co-Op. Supporting local employment, the shop has previously been managed by several English Rural residents.
HRH The Princess Royal met with residents and viewed two of the affordable homes, before officially opening the development by planting a maple tree. The tree-planting also celebrated The Queen’s Green Canopy initiative, created to mark Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022 which invites people from across the United Kingdom to “Plant a tree for the Jubilee”.
Like many villages, Dunsfold has been affected by high house prices and lower-than-average wages, making it unaffordable for many local people to remain within their home communities close to family, work, and support networks. Planning restrictions have been agreed that will ensure the homes will always remain affordable and local people with a connection to Dunsfold will always take priority as residents.
Commenting on the visit, Martin Collett, English Rural’s Chief Executive said: –
“We are proud to have hosted our Patron, Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal, at our latest development in Surrey, where we are committed to working with the local community and Parish and Borough Councils. The visit helps to promote the value that small-scale affordable housing developments can bring to villages like Dunsfold, providing well-designed homes in partnership with and for the benefit of the community. High-quality, affordable rural developments provide a secure and safe place for local people to live, in the communities they serve and support. This is English Rural’s third development in Dunsfold – the first being nearly 30 years ago. We are always pleased when villages invite us back. This not only highlights the continuing need for affordable homes but also demonstrates the trust they have in English Rural. The new affordable homes at Miller Lane will play a vital 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.”
After meeting residents and viewing the homes, HRH The Princess Royal joined invited guests and partners involved in the project over refreshments. Afterwards, Poppy Belle Terris-Webb (aged 7), presented a posy to The Princess Royal.
Cllr Stephen Hayward, Chair of Dunsfold Parish Council, said: –
“Dunsfold Parish Council was delighted to welcome HRH, The Princess Royal, to Dunsfold, where she saw first-hand the small-scale development of eight affordable houses at Miller Lane for people with a strong village connection. This local initiative, which involved the Parish Council working closely with English Rural and other key partners to develop affordable homes, will benefit local people and the community for years to come. The Parish Council has become increasingly aware of the housing challenges that face many local households and have recognised that a rural exception site such as this is an effective way to deliver affordable housing for local people who would otherwise be priced out of the villages that they grew up in.”
The land at Miller Lane was provided by a family with a strong, historical connection to Dunsfold and contractor W. Stirland Ltd. have built the homes. Funding has been provided by English Rural and supported by grant contributions. The affordable rented homes will be owned and managed by English Rural and can never be sold on the open market. The site is known as a ‘Rural Exception Site’, which means development would not have normally been allowed but an exception to planning policy was made because the homes are designed to be affordable and meet local needs forever.
English Rural have applied the principles of ‘Fabric First’ construction, designing the homes to be highly energy efficient, whilst also being attractive, spacious, and comfortable. High levels of insulation have been used and Air Source Heat Pump technology provide affordable heating and hot water for residents, reducing energy use and keeping their fuel bills low.
A selection of photos of the event can be found here
The English Rural logo can be found here.