On 24th September 2019, English Rural hosted their Affordable Housing Summit in the beautiful surroundings of the Denbies Wine Estate in the Surrey Hills. The conference brought together a variety of stakeholders on affordable rural housing issues.
Clive Smith, Planning Adviser, Surrey Hills AONB
Caroline Dibden, Vice-Chairman, CPRE Hampshire
Georgia Kirby-Watt, Associate Director (Land Management), Strutt & Parker
Louise Williams, Rural Housing Enabler for Surrey
Andrew Smith, Head of Housing Delivery and Communities, Waverley Borough Council
Pauline Rose, English Rural Resident
Speakers addressed issues such as planning, conservation, the benefits of affordable housing to the rural economy, working effectively with local communities and perspectives from English Rural residents.
One of the highlights of the day was the launch of a new report, commissioned by English Rural and supported by Strutt & Parker which revealed that properties within the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) are, on average: –
The report ‘The Surrey Hills: A Case for Affordable Rural Housing’ focused on the 42 rural parishes that lie wholly or partly within the Surrey Hills AONB – the most expensive of the 46 English AONBs in which to buy a home.
The research found that only 14% of properties in the Surrey Hills are in the lowest three council tax bands and around 660 (2%) affordable homes need to be built to meet current local housing need across the 42 rural parishes. Building to meet just half the need would equate to 330 homes – 8 in each parish. The report also highlights that the consequences of not meeting the housing needs of residents are significant for individuals, for the future viability of communities, and for the local economy.
The consequences of a lack of affordable homes in the Surrey Hills reach far beyond just the housing market – impacting on individual households, particularly young families. The viability of rural communities, and the sustainability of local business also depends on communities housing a range of age groups and income earners. For rural communities to thrive, we believe local people deserve to live in high-quality, well-managed homes that are comfortable, safe, and affordable. This report shows that the Surrey Hills has a well-evidenced need for affordable homes and that we need to work together with Local Authorities, Parish Councils and importantly the local community to build a legacy for the future of villages that provide opportunities beyond housing.
Speakers on the day: