Rural Housing Enablers are pivotal to the successful development of affordable housing in rural communities. Work undertaken to collect evidence to support local housing needs and vital community consultation is key to success. Just as important is people and organisations working together. RHE’s are independent and play an import role in bringing parties to the table and building trustworthy relationships.
The examples below give a taste of what is possible. Small rural housing schemes for local needs that make a difference to a community. Homes built to a high standard, energy efficient. Often built by Housing Associations with grant support, but not necessarily.
Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any queries or wonder what is possible in your area.
Family home in Talybont
Site Name: Maes-y-Deri
Location: Talybont, Ceredigion
Number of Homes: 1 purpose built home
Developer: Tai Ceredigion
The fully wheelchair accessible bungalow has provided Paul and Claire with the quality surroundings to raise their family and to care for their disabled son Milo. Tai Ceredigion built the bungalow with support from the Rural Housing Enabler, Ceredigion County Council and Social Housing Grant from the Welsh Government. The home has incorporated all the essential equipment and facilities to provide the best life for the family.
Stephen Cripps, Chairman of Tai Ceredigion’s Board said at the opening: “This is a good example of how housing associations can help meet the needs of local people by providing suitable housing which transforms people’s lives for the better.”
Pupils of Ysgol Tal-Y-Bont held a competition to name the house with Swyn Ceulan the winner.
For more information please contact Tai Ceredigion.
More than housing in Botwnnog
Site Name: Congl Meinciau
Location: Botwnnog, Gwynedd
Number of Homes: 12 x 3 bed semi-detached houses and Enterprise Centre
Developer: Cymdeithas Tai Eryri (now Grŵp Cynefin)
This scheme demonstrates how an RHE’s broad range of knowledge and skills add value, supporting community sustainability more holistically than simply through enabling affordable housing. This scheme was developed on the Llyn Peninsula in partnership with Cymunedau’n Gyntaf Pen Llyn (Llyn Peninsula Communities First). It has been part of a larger regeneration project - Tai, Iaith, Gwaith (Housing, Language and Work) - through which the Welsh Government supported Cymdeithas Tai Eryri’s aim of regeneration linked to the development of affordable housing in a deeply rural and Welsh speaking part of Wales.
The RHE’s role was crucial to the development of both the housing and the enterprise centre. His initial survey showed a local need not only for housing but also for economic development and employment opportunities. In Cymdeithas Tai Eryri’s view, without the development of the new homes neither the public sector nor private market would have been prepared to invest in an enterprise centre in that location.
93% of the construction work went to Welsh companies with more than half of it benefitting contractors and suppliers in Gwynedd. Social clauses included in the procurement contract led to the creation of three apprenticeships during construction. A requirement that the contractor donate 0.25% of the contract value led to the creation of a community fund which gives small grants to local and community groups.
All scheme residents have a local connection, having either lived or worked locally for the past five years or having previously lived or worked in the area. By November 2013 the Enterprise Centre was providing 16 jobs. Tenants include a digital inclusion project, physiotherapist, food and hygiene technologist, tourism business, accountant and an education consultancy.
Wil Parry, a local community representative who now works in the centre, said:
"The housing and enterprise centre have, without a doubt, rejuvenated the village of Botwnnog. There is a definite buzz about the place that was not there before.I have no doubt that this would not have happened without the work the RHE put into the project. The housing and enterprise centre complement each other remarkably well and could, or even should, be used as a model for regeneration."
For more information please contact Arfon Hughes.
Community led initiative in Castle Caereinion
Site Name: Swallows Meadow
Location: Castle Caereinion, Powys
Number of Homes: 4 x 2 bedroom semi-detached and 2 x 3 bedroom semi-detached
Developer: Mid-Wales Housing
The local Community Land Trust (CLT) was established in 2007 to look how they could provide affordable homes for local people. The CLT identified a site, which was designated for affordable housing as part of a larger private development of open market homes. The private developer had to provide six serviced plots and transfer the land to Powys County Council. The scheme is progressing without additional grant.
Powys Council supported the ideas of the Community Trust. The Rural Housing Enabler arranged meetings between the Trust and Mid-Wales Housing in 2011, after the project had come to a stand still. Soon a partnership agreement between the two parties was signed. The Community Trust acts as a steering group and agrees all plans and allocation criteria with the Housing Association. The homes will be marketed at intermediate rent and be available for affordable sale.
The Enabler assisted the Community Trust with setting up a register for people who are looking for a home in the village. This register helped to inform the decision on the housing mix.
Mid-Wales Housing finances and organises the development and will manage the properties, once finished. The allocation policy will favour people who have grown up in the village. Planning permission has now been secured.
For more information please contact Henk Jan Kuipers.
Minister opens homes in Bwlch
Site Name: Clos Cefn Moel
Location: Bwlch, Powys
Number of homes: 2 x 2 bedroom bungalows, 2 x 3 bedroom detached houses and 4 x 2 bedroom semi-detached houses
Developer: Melin Homes
Thursday July 11th 2013 saw the official opening by Housing Minister Carl Sargeant of this new rural development. Two of the eight homes were made available as low cost home ownership and the other six are rented properties.
The project to develop affordable homes in Bwlch started back in 2004. When a local housing needs survey was carried out it gathered pace. The results of the survey found that 19 local households were in housing need. The community council together with the Rural Housing Enabler went about looking for potential development sites in the area.
A period followed of liaison with the Brecon Beacons Park Planning Department and negotiations between Melin Homes and the private landowners. A number of community events were organised with the aid of the Enabler to allow local people to comment on the development proposals and find out more about how they could go about applying for the new homes.
After receiving planning approval from the National Park a so called Section 106 agreement had to be drawn up. This agreement between the Planning Authority and Melin Homes ensures the homes will remain affordable in the future. The development eventually commenced on site in 2012 and was completed in May 2013.
At the time of the official opening seven of the new homes were occupied and papers have just been signed on the remaining house available for low cost sale. All eight of the homes were to be occupied by people with a local connection to the area.
Housing Minister Carl Sargeant said: “These eight new affordable homes in Cefn Moel Close are an excellent example of partnership working between Melin Homes, Powys County Council, the Rural Housing Enabler project and theBreconBeaconsNational Park. I am therefore delighted that the Welsh Government was able to support the scheme with £645,413 from the Social Housing Grant Programme. I wish all the families much happiness in their new homes.”
All of the homes were built to Level 3+ of the Code for Sustainable Homes.
For more information please contact David James.
Affordable Homes delivered without grant on Anglesey
Number of Homes: 10 x 2 and 3 bedroom homes
Developer: North Wales Housing Association
Local housing need was proven in Llangoed following a housing need survey by the Anglesey Rural Housing Enabler working with the Community Council. Recognising that Social Housing Grant is diminishing the Isle of Anglesey County Council is providing its own land on a long term lease to North Wales Housing Association to develop affordable housing. The development which should begin in autumn 2013 will provide affordable housing for local people and demonstrate a different model of funding affordable housing.
The survey confirmed a need for up to 16 affordable homes locally. A Council owned site was available which was partly within the development boundary and part outside. North Wales Housing Association (NWHA) was appointed by Anglesey Housing Services as development partners. There was consultation with the Community Council on the proposed plans for ten affordable homes with a local lettings policy which they supported. Planning permission was granted in January 2013.
Widening the access will be necessary which may impact on a Guides Hut nearby. The Enabler discussed the options with the Guides and will keep them informed of any issues that may arise. The Enabler continues also to keep the Community Council informed of progress.
Electricity cables crossing the site and a transformer need to be relocated before work can begin on site. Currently the scheme is on hold until the utility company has undertaken this work.
This development will be the first inAngleseyto use the land value in lieu of grant funding. Anglesey County Council agreed to provide the land at a nominal sum with a 999 year lease to NWHA. The development will consist of a mix of 2 and 3 bedroom homes at intermediate rent and low cost home ownership. If any of the homes within the development boundary are sold outright in the future, the difference between the development costs and the open market value will being repaid into the Council’s affordable housing account.
For more information please contact Mary Sillitoe.
Long term empty home returned to use in Llanwrtyd Wells
Site Name: Victoria House
Location: Llanwrtyd Wells, Powys
The local Town Council, after meeting the Rural Housing Enabler requested help with this prominent empty property in the centre of the town. The feeling was that this was an eyesore and local residents were keen to see it return back to use and be renovated.
The RHE contacted the owner and discussed possible options to bring the property back in use. The RHE was able to assist by arranging a meeting between the owner, the private sector housing team from Powys County Council and Housing Association partners. During these meetings possible options for the future of the property were discussed in more detail. Following this the owner was successful in securing loan finance from Powys Council to assist with the build work. Works were undertaken and completed prior to Spring 2013. Nearly all the work was undertaken by local tradesmen bringing much needed work to the area. The quality of the renovation was extremely high.
Susie Abson the Enabler for the area said, “The owner lived away and had thought to renovate the property but needed some assistance to source expertise and some support to get the project going. The Town Council are so pleased that this prominent property is now looking fantastic and that local tradesmen were used to ensure that money was kept in the area.”
This is a fantastic example what can be achieved by an active approach, bringing the right people and ideas together.
For more information please contact Susie Abson.
Affordable homes in The Vale
Site Name: The Herberts
Location: St Mary Church, Vale of Glamorgan
Number of Homes: 8 – 2 x 2 bedroom Low Cost Home Ownership, 2 purpose built 3 bedroom accessible homes, 2 x 2 bedrooms and 2 x 3 bedroom for social rent.
Need in the area was identified by a housing needs survey carried out in 2010, which highlighted the requirement for four homes per annum in this rural village.
As the development was planned in the rural Vale, it was felt that consultation with the community should be carried out at an early stage. Public meetings were held with the Community Council and local residents before a formal planning application was put in. This allowed the Rural Housing Enabler to address concerns of residents and also to give a voice to locals who were in need but were afraid to speak up in front of the rest of the community.
By agreeing a local lettings policy, the homes were allocated to people with genuine local connections to the village.
For more information please contact Elisa Faulkner.
Celebrating rural housing week in Trellech
Site Name: Kinsey Rise
Location: Broadstone, near Trellech, Monmouthshire
Number of homes: 6 homes
Developer: Seren Group, Charter Housing
Representatives from Trellech United Community Council, Monmouthshire County Council and Seren Group, visited an affordable housing development in the rural hamlet of Broadstone, as part of Wales Rural Housing Week. The visit highlighted the value and essential role that affordable housing can play in creating thriving countryside communities.
Tenant Helen Edwards told the guests: “I was brought up in the Trellech area where many young people are being forced to leave in order to find a home. To be able to stay in the area that I love and raise my children, close to my family for support and in a beautiful new home, really is a dream come true!” She recently moved into her new home and was delighted to welcome the guests for a cupcake and a cuppa.
Kinsey Rise was the result of a partnership between Charter Housing (part of Seren Group), Monmouthshire County Council and the Welsh Government. Together with the Rural Housing Enabler they successfully delivered six much-needed affordable family houses. The homes were constructed using modern methods of construction, making them extremely energy efficient.
In support of the awareness week, Lindsay Whittle, Plaid Cymru AM for South Wales East said: ”It is crucially important that new affordable housing is provided in rural communities so that people born and bred in communities are not forced to move away for cost reasons and Kinsey Rise is a real success story. This initiative helps maintain sustainable communities in rural areas and I hope more sympathetic schemes like this at Trellech can be developed elsewhere in the future”.
For more information please contact David James.
Home in a night in Dolwyddelan
Site Name: Glan Y Gors
Location: Dolwyddelan, Conwy
Number of homes: 4 x 3 bedroom homes
Developer: Cymdeithas Tai Clwyd (now Grŵp Cynefin)
In Summer 2006 consultation work was carried out by the community and Rural Housing Enabler to establish local housing need. The results of a housing needs survey confirmed the housing needs in the area.
A site owned by the Forestry Commission Wales was identified, and CymdeithasTai Clwyd was chosen to develop four 3 bedroom houses on the site. The scheme was made financially viable with social housing grant form the Welsh Government.
The ‘Tŷ Unnos’ method was chosen as the most affordable and effective construction method for this specific site. ‘Tŷ Unnos’ means ‘A House in a Night’ and is based on traditional Welsh folklore, whereby a person who successfully builds a house on common land in one night, then becomes the owner of that house. This new approach builds homes off site. All the planning and construction work could take place within the confines of a clean factory space, requiring significantly less work to be done on site. The home is then transported on the back of a lorry to the site, connected to services and finished.
At the start of the works on site in July 2010, Dolwyddelan Community Council Clerk Gwyn Roberts said: “We are delighted to see this day arrive, and work actually beginning on site. This is an exciting project for the local people and one that will bring an opportunity to young families and couples keen to stay in the area and set up home here. Rising house prices has made purchasing and renting homes during the last few years difficult especially in a tranquil rural village like Dolwyddelan, so this will be a great opportunity for local people keen to live in the area. I would like to thank both the previous and current Rural Housing Enablers for all their support and assistance to start the ball rolling on this project.”
The surrounding area has reverted to its natural habitat. This promotes the wild flora and fauna which in turn enhances the properties and the surrounding area, particularly important due to their location in theSnowdoniaNational Park.
This type of partnership working between Dolwyddelan Community Council, the Rural Housing Enabler, Forestry Commission Wales, Conwy County Borough Council, the Welsh Government andSnowdoniaNational Parkhas resulted in four much needed affordable homes for local families.
For more information please contact Mair Jones.
Affordable homes in Llanarth
Site Name: Bersondy
Location: Llanarth, near Raglan, Monmouthshire
Number of homes: 6 x semi detached homes
Developer: Monmouthshire Housing Association
The Rural Housing Enabler initiated meetings with the community council and as a result a housing needs survey was carried out in the area in 2005. The results of the survey identified 22 people in housing need. Subsequent meetings were held with the community to publicise the results of the survey and encourage people to suggest potential development sites for affordable housing.
The preferred site was owned by Monmouthshire County Council who sold the land to Monmouthshire Housing Association significantly below open market value. The homes were completed in November 2010.
There have been additional benefits to the community as a result of the development. Llanarth Village Hall was refurbished by OPCO, who were the building firm commissioned to undertake the development work. One of the tenants of the new houses has started up a playgroup in the village hall, which is the first in the area for over 25 years. The playgroup is currently being attended by about ten local families.
The homes were completed to Level 4 of the Code for Sustainable Homes, thus helping the families occupying the properties keep running costs low. This is particularly important in this rural part of Monmouthshire, where there is a reliance on the use of private vehicles, adding to the cost of living.
For more information please contact David James.
Affordable homes in Dinas Mawddwy
Site name: Godre’r Coed (‘at the foot of trees’)
Location: Dinas Mawddwy, Gwynedd
Number of homes: 3 bedroom terrace of 3 homes
Developer: Cymdeithas Tai Clwyd (now Grŵp Cynefin)
The Rural Housing Enabler carried out a housing needs survey and public meetings were held with the Community Council and local residents in Dinas Mawddwy in 2005 – 2006. The survey showed a housing need for 15 – 20 homes for local households. This was the starting point to look for suitable land to build on.
This site was owned by the former Forestry Commission Wales and is situated inSnowdoniaNational Park. Gwynedd Housing Authority and Snowdonia National Park Planning Authority decided the land was suitable for housing development as a so called “exception site”. This means that although land is situated outside the development boundary, it can be build on, as long as the homes are affordable and for local needs. The houses were completed in 2009.
The scheme was the first development of affordable housing on an exception site on Forestry Commission Wales land. The scheme was deemed by local people as an opportunity for them to stay in an area where house prices are high. Due to high land prices, planning restrictions and lack of funding it is in general impossible to build new affordable homes in the area.
The houses are heated with air source heat pumps and the standard of insulation is high. The houses are clad in wood and slate and are eye catching. The houses have now been let for a few years and the residents are happy with their new homes.
For more information please contact Arfon Hughes.