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AFFORDABLE RURAL HOUSING – QUOTES AND A CASE STUDY
Miss Pearson from Tingewick;
“I had lived in the parish for 6 years, eventually with my partner and our little boy in a one bedroom flat and it was quite hard. Our new home has made a really big difference to our lives, it’s absolutely amazing. The villagers are wonderful we have fantastic neighbours, we couldn’t afford anything bigger locally and we are just so lucky to have something like this. If a second scheme is needed and other people’s lives are changed, as our lives were changed, then it’s got to help hasn’t it?”
Alistair Houghton-Brown from Tingewick;
“I have lived most of my life in Tingewick, my parents live here and I have many good friends within the village. When I returned to England in 2005 (after a few years in South Korea) my wife and I decided that this would be the ideal place to set up home for our young family. We moved into my parent’s house at first hoping to use it as a base to search for a reasonably priced rental property or (perhaps naively) a house that we could put a deposit down on. Weeks turned into months, eventually we found a house to rent, it was expensive, costing far more than I had anticipated spending a month, but we needed our space and this was the only option.
Whilst renting I had my name added to the Council Housing List, however, despite our difficult circumstances we did not have enough points to qualify for a property. Luckily we found out about the shared ownership housing scheme and entered ourselves into the lottery. After some form filling, and a visit from a Hastoe representative we were lucky enough to be offered one of the newly built properties.”
Luke and Devon, Long Crendon;
Now in his early twenties, Luke was born in the village of Long Crendon and has lived there all his life. Along with his charming girlfriend Devon, they feel that the time is approaching when they will need to start thinking about getting a place of their own and moving out of Mum and Dad’s.
But it isn’t as easy as that, especially in rural locations and particularly in a parish as attractive as Long Crendon. The heart of the village is often used as a film location and has appeared in many episodes of Midsomer Murders. Average house prices, to rent or to purchase are beyond the reach of many local people, especially the young.
High open market prices often mean that many parishioners who want to continue to live, work, support services in their villages and remain close to their families, are forced to move away.
I met Luke and Devon when they came along to have a look at the new ‘rural exception’ development in the nearby village of Oakley recently. The eleven homes at Oakley have helped to maintain a vibrant community and have made a real difference to peoples’ lives, offering a lasting benefit to the village. Properties built on rural exception schemes are built purely for people with a very strong local connection; the homes remain affordable and are never lost on to the open market.
The young couple both work for a large marketing agency in Thame, Luke has his heart set on starting his own photography business and already provides photographs for the parish council website. He studied for a national diploma in photography at Banbury College.
He said, “When we had a look around the homes in Oakley, we immediately felt comfortable and could picture ourselves living in one. We were really pleased to discover that the homes are built for local people like us, it’s given us hope. They were affordable, they weren’t out of our reach, and we were very impressed by the high build quality.”
Devon, suffers from arthritis and ME which meant that she was only able to attend school part-time but she still managed 6 GCSE’s from grades A to C and went on to study Fine Art, English Literature and psychology A level at Aylesbury College.
She added, “My arthritis comes and goes, some days I’m fine but other times I need to use crutches and occasionally a wheelchair. I liked the fact that the homes in Oakley were built to ‘Lifetime’ homes standard to enable them to be adapted for people with disabilities. I noticed the wiring was already in place for a stair lift and the doors were wider to allow disabled access.
If a scheme was built in Crendon and we were lucky enough to be offered a property, it would give us the security of knowing we could stay there, in our own permanent home, near Luke’s family, instead of having to keep moving around and adapting properties. I also loved the fact that they all have private gardens, even the flats and when my illness is particularly bad I know I would feel a bit more alive being able to sit outside.”