Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal will be attending the Annual General Meeting of English Rural Housing Association in her capacity as the organisations Patron. The event, being hosted in the grounds of Loseley Park in Surrey on 22nd September 2015, will include around 80 invited guests involved in enabling and developing affordable rural homes. Guests will hear about the vital work undertaken by English Rural from a range of speakers, including The Princess Royal, Mark Tillson, English Rural’s Chairman and Gill Payne, Director of Policy and External Affairs for the National Housing Federation. Guests will also have the benefit of hearing from the Michael More-Molyneux, whose family have called Loseley Park home for over 500 years.
One of the key themes of the event will be the impact of recent changes announced by Government on the capacity to deliver affordable homes in small rural communities. The continued decline of public subsidy and more recently the affect of reducing rents, which present significant challenges for English Rural and the wider housing association sector; although work continues to identify innovative ways to fund and deliver much needed affordable housing. A further critical topic to be covered will be the risks posed from extension of the Right to Buy Policy to housing associations, which English Rural believe will have a disproportionate impact in rural areas, where affordable homes are already scarce and delivery of new homes difficult. Along with other rural housing providers, English Rural is calling for small villages to be exempt from the new policy in order to safeguard communities from losing vital affordable homes.
English Rural has been working in partnership with parish and district councils across Surrey for a number of years, resulting in 154 affordable homes in 16 villages in the county. The housing crisis facing rural Surrey is particularly acute due to higher than average property values across the county. The homes provided by English Rural enable lower income families to remain in their local neighbourhood, close to support networks and employment, creating mixed and vibrant communities with a range of age groups and income earners.
Commenting on the event, Adrian Maunders, Chief Executive, English Rural Housing Association, said: –
“This year we are particularly pleased that our Patron, HRH The Princess Royal has agreed to attend. The challenges facing organisations like English Rural are perhaps greater now than at any time before, and as a long-standing advocate of our work, we are grateful for the continued interest and support The Princess Royal shows in the subject.
“Although English Rural works nationally, Surrey is a county where we have particularly close links having worked with local partners to enable and develop homes since we were registered in the county almost a quarter of a century ago. We have formed an especially strong working partnership with Surrey Community Action, working closely with the Rural Housing Enabler to support a programme of new affordable homes in villages across the county.”
Gill Payne, Director of Policy and External Affairs, the National Housing Federation, said:-
“I am thrilled to be able to speak at this event. Developing more affordable rural homes remains an important part of tackling the housing shortage in a balanced way. The work that English Rural and other specialist rural providers do in partnership with the National Housing Federation, advocating the need for affordable rural homes, continues to ensure that rural, as well as urban development is sustained on the national agenda during what is a challenging time generally, but something of a watershed moment for the housing association sector as we adjust to a new operating environment and prepare to meet new challenges. The sound stewardship, ingenuity and focus on purpose shown by English Rural is typically of the sector, ensuring that housing associations are well placed to maintain affordable housing provision into the future.”
Notes to editors
English Rural Housing Association is a Registered Social Landlord that was established in 1991 to provide affordable homes in small villages for local people. Developments built by English Rural meet local needs and help to maintain sustainable rural communities.
It currently owns and manages around 1200 affordable properties, spread amongst 125 villages, and has a development programme of over 200 additional homes.