Wellingborough Council has helped 28 local families and 6 elderly residents stay in their own communities, according to new figures released today as part of Rural Housing Week.
The week is designed to highlight the important role that affordable housing plays in keeping rural communities vibrant.
Living in the countryside has become more popular in recent years, meaning the price of rural homes has increased and many young people growing up in local villages have been unable to afford to stay in their communities. Wellingborough Council has been addressing the problem by working with the Homes and Communities Agency, Northants Rural Housing Association and parish councils to help provide affordable village homes for local people.
In the last three years four small housing developments have been completed in Bozeat, Sywell, Little Harrowden and Wollaston with the houses prioritised for people with a connection to each village. Northants Rural Housing Association conducted local housing needs surveys, and appropriate housing schemes were then developed. In all cases Wellingborough Council also provided additional funding so that the houses could be built to higher than normal energy efficiency standards with measures such as solar panels, heat pumps and improved insulation.
Councillor Peter Morrall, chairman of the council's community committee said: "The work we've done to provide affordable rural housing has resulted in a considerable number of people being able to remain in their local communities and maintain links with family and friends. We will continue to further identify and enable the development of much needed affordable housing in our villages in the future so that even more residents can benefit and our communities continue to thrive."
Tracy Whittmore, who moved into the Wollaston development at the end of last year with her partner and their two young daughters said: "We have family in Wollaston and it was great that we managed to get one of these houses. It's absolutely perfect for us."
Angela and Michael Ambidge, who moved into a new bungalow in Little Harrowden after being on the council's housing register for three years were also delighted with their home. Angela said: "I'm from the area and we were keen to move back into Little Harrowden, especially as my 81 year old mum is in sheltered accommodation in the village. I think it's very important to have rural affordable housing, especially for young people to get a decent house. Village life is special and it's great that people can keep their ties to their community."