Water companies supporting royal bid to ease rural housing crisis
SOUTH WEST WATER is backing an industry-wide drive to help solve the countryside's affordable housing shortage.
Ten water companies including South West Water are taking part in a pilot programme organised by HRH The Prince of Wales's affordable rural housing initiative.
During the pilot programme managed by Business in the Community, companies will pool expertise, experience and resources in an attempt to transform suitable, redundant rural sites into low cost homes for local people.
Chris Shapland, Director and General Manager of South West Water's development arm Peninsula Properties said: "We are only too well aware in Devon and Cornwall of the shortage of affordable housing in rural areas and are very pleased our industry as a whole has decided to take a lead on this.
"We are currently seeking to set up 'needs surveys' in conjunction with parish councils. Such sites would need to be on the edge of communities and, in planning terms, these are known as 'exception sites'.
"If need and sustainability are demonstrated, and planning consent is achieved, local authorities will set qualifying criteria.
"However, it's important to stress we are not planning to build homes ourselves. Instead these sites will be made available to housing associations, specialist providers of affordable housing and social landlords.
"The schemes themselves will be small scale and the process including the planning phase is also likely to take some time but we are committed to doing all we can to helping rural communities and the regional economy."
HRH The Prince of Wales said: "The water companies are perfectly placed to help provide new homes where needed and I do congratulate them.
"They have recognised that the lack of affordable housing is having a devastating impact on our rural communities and innovative ideas such as this are essential if rural life as we know it, is to survive."
The 12 month pilot involves water companies reviewing their existing holdings close to rural communities and working with parish councils, local authorities and housing associations to evaluate the suitability of potential sites for affordable homes.
Published: 20 December, 2006
Notes to Editors
1) HRH The Prince of Wales's Affordable Rural Housing Initiative was launched in 2003 and is supported by His Royal Highness, His Grace the Duke of Westminster, the Countryside Agency and the Housing Corporation.
2) Potential sites for housing would need to sit on the edge of a boundary of a village and be formerly home to a redundant pumping station or service reservoir.
3) Before sites can be proposed, a needs survey will be carried out establishing whether there is a need for a type of affordable housing and a clear benefit to the local community. We also have to look at the practical limitations of the site and the potential environmental impact of development and future sustainability.
4) Peninsula Properties is currently involved in schemes around Devon and Cornwall which will deliver over 50 affordable homes – mainly on urban 'brownfield' sites.
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