North Cerney, Gloucestershire — To mark the launch of a new development partnership between English Rural and Cirencester Housing, 12 new affordable rural homes were recently completed and officially opened earlier this year by English Rural’s Patron, HRH The Princess Royal.
The small-scale development at Churnbridge Row in the village of North Cerney, Gloucestershire provides homes that will benefit local people. The 12 affordable homes have been built for local people living, working in or with close family connections to the village. Two of the homes are being sold on a shared ownership basis and the remaining 10 available to rent.
The opening launches a new development partnership between English Rural and Cirencester Housing. The partnership strengthens a shared strategic direction by increasing the ability to deliver quality homes and services to rural communities within Gloucestershire. The relationship will capitalise on the excellent local Cirencester Housing brand and knowledge, whilst increasing access to the development expertise of English Rural. This will make sure that the combined resources are applied to investing in more affordable homes in the Cotswold and Stroud Districts, areas where property values are no longer affordable to many local households.
The need for affordable rural homes is greater than ever and maximising investment in new homes through mutually beneficial collaboration and partnerships is an important part of the solution.
Both English Rural and Cirencester Housing believe that investing in just a handful of affordable rural homes can be a catalyst for rural communities to thrive. Without these homes, it is difficult for families to grow and remain, putting the long-term sustainability of the local economy at risk.
Both English Rural and Cirencester Housing have strong track records 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.
The new arrangement will support English Rural in the delivery of its purpose which is “the provision and management of affordable housing for local people in rural villages in England and to be an advocate for affordable rural housing”. English Rural’s Business Strategy includes an ambition for growth, secured through collaboration, provision of services to other housing associations and building new affordable rural developments via community partnerships. The partnership adds further scale to English Rural’s presence in rural Gloucestershire.
Maureen Margrie, Chief Executive of Cirencester Housing, said: –
“This new development partnership recognises the individual strengths of both organisations and capitalises on our joint capacity and pooled intelligence. Cirencester Housing has a strong local brand and knowledge and English Rural has the technical and developmental expertise to mobilise and deliver.
The arrangement allows us to be more ambitious in the Cotswold and Stroud districts and deliver on opportunities that would otherwise be missed.”
Commenting on the visit, Martin Collett, English Rural’s Chief Executive said: –
“English Rural are delighted to partner with Cirencester Housing. This new arrangement will enable us to work even more closely with them and apply our combined resources towards the agreed purpose of building and managing affordable rural homes within Gloucestershire.”
“English Rural’s own Business Strategy includes supporting smaller specialist rural housing associations to make sure that they deliver more homes that are desperately needed by rural communities. The need for affordable rural homes is greater than ever and maximising investment in new homes through mutually beneficial collaboration and partnerships is an important part of the solution.”
A grant was received by Cirencester Housing from Costwold District Council to build the homes in partnership with North Cerney Parish Council, Bagendon Parish Council, and the Gloucester Rural Housing Partnership (GRHP). Architects for the project were Quattro Design Architects Ltd. and construction started on the scheme in May 2019 using local builder J. Harper and Sons (Leominster) Ltd.
Cirencester Housing have designed the homes at Churnbridge Row to be highly efficient, whilst also being attractive, spacious, and comfortable. High levels of insulation have been used and Air Source Heat Pump technology provides affordable heating and hot water for residents, reducing energy use and keeping their fuel bills low.