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News release from: 04/07/2023

South Cambridgeshire District Council supports Rural Housing Week

South Cambridgeshire District Council supports Rural Housing Week

The District Council is supporting Rural Housing Week to raise awareness of how we help local people either rent or get onto the property ladder with affordable housing solutions.

One way we do this, is through the Rural Exception Site policy, which has enabled registered providers to build 458 affordable homes across South Cambridgeshire since 2009.

In addition, more than 30 new homes are due to be completed on rural exception sites in the district in the next two years.

Cllr John Batchelor, Lead Cabinet Member For Housing for South Cambridgeshire District Council, said: “‘We are proud of our work to help local people afford to buy or rent a home in the area where they live or work. The district is an expensive area to live, and many people cannot afford to stay in the villages where they have grown up all their lives. It’s important for us to help them find workable solutions, especially young people who want to get on to the property ladder.

“We have a superb track record by taking proactive steps in advancing Rural Exception sites, making it a key priority in delivering new affordable homes. Through collaboration with Registered Providers and our New Build Team we work together to ensure families can stay connected to their rural roots, fostering a strong sense of belonging and community cohesion. Most villages have benefitted from affordable homes built via the Rural Exception route.”

The Rural Exception Sites policy allows sites which are outside the development framework to be developed as an exception to planning policy. It means land that would otherwise be considered unsuitable can be used for affordable homes.

The scheme works via Cambridgeshire ACRE with the support of both the district and parish council.  

First, a survey is carried out to find out how many people in the village have a housing need. Once a housing need is identified the registered provider, along with the parish council, look at finding a suitable area of land to be developed as a rural exception site, for example by approaching local landowners and farmers.

The ensuing process includes a site feasibility study, applying for planning permission and public consultation before building work begins in conjunction with a housing provider.

Kirsten Bennett, Chief Executive of Cambridgeshire ACRE, said: “Through the Cambridgeshire Rural Affordable Housing Partnership we aim to deliver 50 new affordable homes each year across the County. The outcome of this is significant with 50 families or individuals, who otherwise would not be able to afford a home in the rural community where they wish to live, being allocated a high quality, energy efficient and affordable home suitable for their needs. These new homes also bring wider benefits to the communities where they are built, helping with the sustainability of infrastructure and services needed to ensure the prosperity of that village longer-term.”

We are also proud of our development programme, building new council homes. A total of 321 Council homes have been built for rent and shared ownership since 2018, enabling local people to stay living in their local communities.