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4th Jul 2019
Trunch residents Gillian right and her mum Joan meet at the gate between their two homes by Broadland Housing

A leading Norfolk social housing provider is calling for more resources to be put into providing affordable housing in rural areas – as a national campaign highlights the crucial role that affordable housing plays in helping to maintain small rural communities.

Broadland Housing Group says that the lack of housing which local people can afford to live in is having a devastating impact on the social fabric of rural life – a particular issue in Norfolk, where high second home ownership levels are exacerbating the problem.

In Rural Housing Week (1st - 5th July), Broadland Housing chief executive Michael Newey called for a concerted effort to provide more new affordable homes in the county’s rural communities.

“In many of Norfolk’s rural communities, the average age of residents is rising as young people and families are priced out of their local area and forced to live elsewhere.  As a result, many local services are struggling to survive.

“We want to see more affordable and social housing provided in rural communities to help maintain a living, working countryside.  We are building as many new homes as we can in the county’s villages and rural communities, but to tackle the problem effectively, there needs to be an increased focus on helping local people live in the communities they grew up in.”

Broadland Housing continues to build new affordable homes in Norfolk’s rural communities, including 12 new homes being constructed alongside ten open market homes at Edgefield near Holt.  Due to be completed next year, the affordable homes will be allocated to people with a connection to the local area.

Other recently completed rural housing schemes include one at Great Ryburgh, where five homes for affordable rent were delivered, as well as the second phase of Broadland’s development at Trunch, where six affordable homes were completed in April to complement the 12 delivered in phase one of the project last year.

One example of a local resident who has been able to return to their original rural community is Gillian, who works locally as a carer and who has moved into one of the new affordable homes built by Broadland Housing in Trunch.  Her family have lived in the village for more than 40 years, but rising housing costs meant that she had been forced to move to Paston.

Gillian’s new bungalow backs on to her mother’s house, and the housing association has installed a garden gate so that she can visit her mum Joan, who is 80 and lives alone, every day.

“It has really taken a weight off my shoulders to have mum so close, and I can keep a really close eye on her,” said Gillian.  “I feel less stressed about work because I’m in the village and can get to the people I care for quickly.

“For the first time, my severely disabled grandson, who uses a wheelchair, can visit me in my home, thanks to the level entry and wide doors on my new home.  By being back in my own community, I feel part of something again, and able to provide support to my family.”

Rob Young, head of economic and community development at north Norfolk District Council, said, “This is an excellent example of partnership working between Broadland Housing, the parish council and North Norfolk District Council.

“It is a sensitively designed development of the highest quality housing, not only helping to meet local housing need but to help sustain a strong community in Trunch.”