Lord Gardiner Views Affordable Rural Homes in Throwley, Kent

THROWLEY, Kent (July 5th, 2019) — Lord Gardiner, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Rural Affairs, visited English Rural’s affordable homes in Throwley, Kent on Friday 5th July during the National Housing Federation’s ‘Rural Housing Week 2019’. During his visit Lord Gardiner heard first-hand how the six affordable homes (currently under construction) which have been made available for local people, will transform lives, and give the local economy a significant boost.

Services in rural areas, such as schools and pubs, are the pillars of rural community life and are increasingly at risk of closing where rural areas have suffered from lack of investment in new affordable homes. Without this investment, it is difficult for families to grow and remain in the same area, and more difficult for people to move to these areas, putting the long-term sustainability of local businesses at risk.

English Rural has a strong track record of working with communities in rural areas to deliver homes that meet an acute need. Housing needs surveys are carried out to understand exactly what homes a community needs and where they should be built. The community is involved throughout the design process so that the homes reflect the aspirations and sensitivities of local people. Building affordable rural homes enables families to remain within the communities they have been in for generations, and this in turn supports rural services by allowing them to remain open.

Minister for Rural Affairs, Lord Gardiner said:

“Vibrant rural communities are the lifeblood of this country, and ensuring affordable and accessible housing is key to ensuring they can grow and thrive.

Housing Associations like English Rural play a key role in delivering affordable homes in partnership with local communities. By supporting more flexible planning rules and targeted investment we remain committed to encouraging sensitive housing and economic growth in rural areas.”

The development is the result of an innovative project which started almost six years previously. Throwley and Sheldwich, Badlesmere & Leaveland Parish Councils have worked together with English Rural to provide affordable homes for local people in their own community. The Rural Housing Enabler (RHE) at ‘Action with Rural Communities’ carried out housing needs surveys in both parishes and the two Parish Councils worked together to provide homes that meet the housing needs of both communities.

Swale Borough Council were impressed that the development is the result of two Parish Councils working together and considered that the strong partnership formed by all involved to provide local needs housing was something that should be promoted to all rural parishes in the Borough.

The development will provide much-needed affordable homes for local people. Like many rural areas, villages in Kent have been affected by higher than average property values and lower than average wages, making it unaffordable for many local households to remain within their home communities close to family and support networks.

Commenting on the visit Alison Thompson, Senior Regional Development Director, English Rural, said:

I am delighted to have welcomed Lord Gardiner on behalf of English Rural and show him the affordable rural homes we are developing in the village of Throwley. Most importantly, the visit focused on how Parish Councils can work effectively together to form a strong partnership that ultimately benefits local residents. This will have a positive impact on their own circumstances and the wider community.”

Rural Housing Week provides an opportunity for English Rural and our partners to highlight the community-led work that we do and ensure that the need for affordable rural homes is recognised.

Encouraging politicians like Lord Gardiner to visit examples of what can be achieved forms an important highlight for the week.”

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