Royal opening for Kent affordable rural homes

HRH The Princess Royal visited Vyvyan Cottages, Iden Green on 2nd March 2016 to officially open the new affordable housing on the development. The six affordable homes at Vyvyan Cottages were recently completed and are in addition to the six homes completed in 1994. These homes have been achieved through a community led partnership between English Rural Housing Association, Benenden Parish Council, the Harmsworth Memorial Trust and Tunbridge Wells Borough Council; the project has also benefitted from the support of the Kent Rural Housing Enabler. HRH The Princess Royal met local residents and viewed one of the affordable homes, before officially opening the new homes on the development.

The land for the current site was made available by the Parish Council, having been gifted to them by the current Viscount Rothermere at the same time he made land available for the initial six homes. The development is named in tribute to the current Viscount Rothermere’s two uncles who died during WW1.

The affordable homes have been made available at a lower than market rent and planning restrictions ensure that local households with a connection to the village have priority to live in them.

Commenting on the visit, Adrian Maunders, Chief Executive said: –

“The visit will help to promote the benefits that small projects of affordable rural homes can bring to villages like Iden Green. We are especially pleased that Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal is able to visit one of our developments in Kent, where we have a successful track record of working with parish and district councils across the county to provide well designed affordable homes in partnership with and for the benefit of local communities. The work that English Rural undertakes is designed to complement the needs of rural parishes, providing homes for local people in the communities they serve and support, ultimately helping to maintain vibrant, active and working villages that house a mixture of age groups and income earners.”

HRH The Princess Royal took the opportunity to meet with local residents living in the affordable homes and was shown around one of them.

The new homes at Vyvyan Cottages were built by building firm BW May & Sons and provides the Parish of Benenden with six additional rented homes. The properties are owned and managed by English Rural and can never be lost to 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 in perpetuity.

The homes have been designed to achieve maximum energy efficiency and minimum energy use, achieving ‘Code for Sustainable Homes Level 3’ by using renewable technologies – Air Source Heat Pumps for heating and hot water. Security has also been at the forefront of design, with the development complying with Police standards, achieving a ‘Secured by Design’ award. All the homes have attained ‘Lifetime Homes’ standards, ensuring they offer versatile accommodation to meet the changing needs of residents.

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