Coleford has 62 reasons to celebrate Rural Housing Week

Rural Housing Week (2-6 July) was marked in Coleford with the completion of 62 affordable market town homes at Thurstan’s Rise, a 156-home development at Owen Farm.

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The new Stonewater homes are helping to meet a housing crisis in rural villages and towns where only eight per cent of housing is affordable compared with 20 per cent in main urban centres*.

Leading social housing provider Stonewater, working with house builder David Wilson Homes and Forest of Dean District Council, has provided a mix of 18 one- and two-bedroom apartments, 24 two-, three- and four-bedroom houses all for affordable rent, plus 19 two- and three-bedroom houses, available for shared ownership. One three-bedroom house has also been purpose-built for a local family in partnership with the council.

The sensitively designed development includes a children’s play area, private gardens and parking, and many of the properties feature solar panels to help residents keep their energy bills low.

Priority for the new affordable homes will be given to those who already have a connection to the local area. The new rental homes will be allocated through the Council’s Choice Based Lettings system.

“At a time when the average person in the district would need a 92% pay rise to afford an average home***, more and more young people and families who have grown up in the village are being forced to move away to find a home they can afford,” says Jonathan Layzell, Executive Director of Development at Stonewater. “Locals looking to rent are also finding themselves priced out, with the average rent eating up over a quarter (28%**) of their earnings. This has a devastating impact on the sustainability of village shops and local services which is evidenced by the closure of 46 post offices across the region in the past five years and 217 pubs closures between 2013 and 2016***.

“These new affordable homes at Thurstan’s Rise are a great example of how housing associations can work together with developers and local authorities to tackle this problem, through building good quality homes that local people can truly afford. These homes however, have to be the right type of housing, in the right location, to stimulate growth, diversity and long-term prosperity.”
The smart new Thurstan’s Rise development is just a 15-minute walk from Coleford town centre and just ten minutes from St John’s Church of England Academy.

Monica Burns, External Affairs Manager for rural housing at the National Housing Federation, says: “Far too few homes are being built for local people and villages are dying as a result. Young people are moving to cities and often house prices are rocketing. Right across rural England, schools are shutting their doors to pupils. Post offices, which provide vital community services, are closing at a similar rate and countless pubs are serving their last ever orders to locals.

“It’s therefore very welcome news that housing associations like Stonewater are stemming this tide by building the new homes local people desperately need.”
Councillor Richard Leppington, Forest of Dean District Council Cabinet Member for Development, Asset Management, Infrastructure and Housing says: “This new development has been made possible thanks to proactive partnership work between the District Council, Stonewater and David Wilson Homes.

“The provision of affordable housing for our residents was one of the key priorities for the current cabinet. This scheme has contributed 40% affordable housing and with nearly 2,000 people on the housing waiting list, it provides high-quality homes close to the heart of Coleford and helps to enhance the vibrancy of the local community.”

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* Department for Communities and Local Government (2011) English housing survey, DCLG

** National Housing Federation, Home Truths 2017/18

*** National Housing Federation, Rural Housing Week 2018 resources