Rural Affordable Housing Project Experience

Here are two examples of recent projects I have completed this year:

Finding Solutions that Work for You

A review of existing policy and practice to support the development of a Local Plan

Working with planners in Dartmoor National Park I supported them review the impact of their existing policies and explore how policy and practice from other areas could help them meet the housing challenges of the National Park. The findings of the review were the third pillar of work undertaken by Three Dragons that informed the approach and housing policies included in the draft Local Plan.

Through discussions with the policy planners I established the key policy topics where they wanted to consider new ideas and a framework of tests against which alternative practice would be assessed.

Drawing on my network I identified policies that were relevant to the housing challenges facing Dartmoor National Park. Through interviews with those who had designed and implemented these I distilled key learning points to assess their compatibility with existing and emerging national policy, the approach being considered by Dartmoor National Park, their deliverability and call on staff resources.

From this a shortlist of options were explored at a workshop I facilitated, attended by the enablers from the housing authorities that cover the National Park, housing associations, private developers and officers from Dartmoor National Park.

The combined findings from these different strands of work were drawn together into a report, with proposals for each topic area. These were used to inform discussions with Members of Dartmoor National Park on their preferred approach, which shaped the policies in the draft Local Plan.

Jo has a clear passion for supporting rural affordable housing. She brings a wealth of knowledge, experience and connections to her work and I have a great deal of respect for Jo’s opinion. Her input to our review of Local Plan housing policies tested and challenged us in all the right ways, and she brought new ideas which we’ve shaped together into draft policies.

Helping you unlock barriers to delivery

Research and facilitated engagement of key stakeholders to find a collaborative way forward

The Hampshire Alliance for Rural Affordable Housing (HARAH) has over 10 years experience of providing affordable homes in villages across the county, but was faced with the challenge of a slowing pipeline. I was asked to help them identify the reasons and explore what they could do in response, with a particular focus on land supply.

Working with HARAH’s delivery partners the timescales of progress through the pre-development stages was mapped. A series of interviews and surveys were carried out with housing enabling officers, housing associations and planners. In parallel a survey of landowners was undertaken to establish their motivations for providing rural exception sites and the factors that dissuaded them from doing so.

The findings were reported to a facilitated workshop with key local authority and housing association staff. Together they identified steps that could help improve the number of schemes coming into the pipeline and pace of their delivery.

The final report brought the research findings and agreed steps together and from this an action plan was developed. One of the first steps was a successful half-day event for landowners and their agents.

Jo has worked with HARAH on a number of occasions and the projects always benefit from her wealth of experience and specialist rural knowledge. Her work this time helped us gain a better understanding of what had changed for our mature partnership, and what impact wider external forces were having on our supply. Jo took the time to listen to us and to fully understand the scope of what we wanted from the project. She offered an independence that meant partner organisations felt they could talk candidly. The outcomes she delivered have helped us clarify the actions needed moving forward.

When you engage Jo you have the confidence that not only will the work be delivered, but that it will include a through understanding of wider political and economic forces, along with best practice from elsewhere in the country. Jo is a true rural champion.

Sherree Stanley Conroy

HARAH Strategic Housing Officer

An up to date knowledge of policy and practice

Technical support and network building to strengthen the voice for delivering rural affordable housing

Action for Rural Communities in England (ACRE) has a long history of advocating the delivery of rural affordable housing through its own voice and the actions of its network members, the county Rural Community Councils. It remains one of their priority work areas and to strengthen the effectiveness of their contribution I have been asked to provide them with technical support.

Enabling ACRE to make an informed response to key government consultations

Through analysing key national policy consultations, including the Housing White Paper and revisions to the NPPF, I have supported ACRE staff submit formal responses that provide a rural proofing critique of policy proposals and recommendations that would support delivery of rural affordable housing.

Strengthening housing expertise within ACRE

I have mentored a member of ACRE’s staff as they developed ACRE’s Housing Position Statement. This included considering what should be the priorities, who were the key audiences and how best to convey what action they were looking for from others to help meet ACRE’s housing objectives.

Facilitating sharing of experience and that policy is informed by practice and vice-versa

I have provided briefings on policy developments to assist network members engage with key decision makers at the local level. To ensure ACRE’s responses are informed by what is happening on the ground I have collated local evidence of the opportunities and barriers that are being experienced. A principal part of this work has been to facilitate training and network events for Rural Housing Enablers who operate across England.