Boost for affordable homes in Rural Cumbria

12th January 2024

Eden Housing Association (EHA) is working with ACTion with Communities in Cumbria (ACT) to deliver a new Rural Housing Enabling Service in Cumbria.  The service is being developed throughout England by ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England), of which ACT is the Cumbria member of the ACRE network.

ACRE has secured funding from DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) for a service to boost affordable homes to ensure that small, rural communities don’t continue to miss out on the development of the affordable homes they need.

The Cumbrian Rural Housing Enabler Service will help ‘unlock’ small development sites, some of which may not be on the local list of allocated sites for housing development, or maybe ‘windfall’ sites. The aim is to help communities of up to 3000 people see affordable housing development at appropriate scale, coming to fruition. In most cases, the need will be for fewer than 10 homes.

‘We know that these small developments of affordable houses can make the difference between a resident village population that can support local services and one where the shop and the school and pub become unsustainable over time,’ says ACT’s Fran Richardson. ‘We also know that economies of scale make it far more likely for developments to be pursued on the outskirts of our larger towns. This continues to make it harder for people on low or average wages to stay in our smaller rural settlements.’

EHA will work with ACT over the next 15 months to develop the service and to demonstrate the difference this additional support can make and help secure future investment in affordable Cumbria housing.  EHA recognises work with communities can often get overlooked by developers, especially in more rural locations. “We’re delighted to partner with ACT and help establish the new Rural Housing Enabler Service in Cumbria. It’s fantastic to help bring together like-minded organisations supporting an increase of community led affordable homes in the more rural areas of Cumbria.” says EHA Chief Executive, Chris Fawcett.

High levels of holiday accommodation and second home ownership in some areas have exacerbated problems caused by the low supply of affordable homes. Affordability is crucial in communities with high levels of low wage employees, particularly among our young people.

This important new service will support communities in local planning authorities across Cumbria – Cumberland, Westmorland and Furness, the Lake District National Park and the Yorkshire Dales National Park. It will help to reduce the shortfall against targets for affordable homes developed in Cumbria by meeting the needs of smaller, rural communities.

For further information please contact [email protected]

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