It can be really difficult to find your first home in Buckinghamshire, but a project to sort that in rural areas gets a royal seal of approval today (15 July). Princess Anne is in Bellingdon, near Chesham, seeing one of the many affordable rural homes schemes here which keeps homes cheap. Jean Fox is from Community Impact Bucks, which runs the project: “These rural exception schemes always help the villages in a small way.“They help to sustain them, they help to provide homes for people who’d otherwise be forced to leave the parish and often those people are on a lower income and work in village services like the shop, pub or agriculture.” Despite strong evidence to support the benefits of affordable housing, rising house prices means that an increasing number of young people are being forced to move away from their rural community, which has a serious impact on the lifeblood of the local area. The Princess’ visit comes just days after Rural Housing Week, a campaign led by the National Housing Federation to raise national awareness of the issues surrounding the lack of affordable homes in the countryside. Jean has championed the development of over 200 new affordable rural homes in Buckinghamshire over the last 11 years.
She added: “Most people living in rural communities, whatever their circumstances, fully appreciate the need for sensible, sympathetic and sustainable development which enable younger people to remain within their communities, close to family and friends and working in local services. “We all want sustainable communities but affordable housing is often the missing piece of the jigsaw. It is places like Bloomfield Cottages that complete the picture”
The Princess Royal will open the scheme officially, planting an apple tree in the community orchard there.
It’s as part of her role aspatron of the English Rural Housing Association.