For rural areas to thrive, they need affordable homes for families to grow. Parish Councils recognise that affordable homes enable families to remain within the communities they have been brought up in and where they may have an existing family support network. Keeping new and growing families in the local area supports rural services and businesses which may be threatened with closure.

CHS has a proud history of delivering affordable housing for rent and shared ownership in rural settlements and during the year we worked closely with Parish Councils in Wicken and Newton to identify and bring forward land for Rural Exception Site developments for local people. In both cases Housing Need Surveys were carried out to identify the specific affordable housing requirements for local people with a village connection. This was followed by meetings with the Parish Councils and residents to discuss the survey results, agree scheme size, layout and tenure mix. With both schemes this involved several meetings to consider various scheme designs each amended to reflect concerns raised by interested parties relating to open space, landscaping, tree retention and other environmental issues. In the case of Wicken this resulted in the purchase of a site and the grant of planning consent for 16 homes with work due to start on site in October 2019. We have subsequently agreed terms with a landowner in Newton and are now working towards exchanging contracts and submitting a planning application for eight homes.

In addition, we discussed similar potential schemes with the Parish Councils of Doddington and Wimblington and although both Councils are fully supportive of more affordable housing for local people we have yet to successfully identify suitable sites.