Rural Housing Summit: keeping Norfolk’s villages vibrant

Over 80 rural landowners, housebuilders, local councillors and planning consultants joined together with Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman last Friday (13 October) to hear more from experts in rural housing about the opportunities of building affordable homes in their communities.
The Rural Housing Summit was convened by The Norfolk Way, a non-for profit social enterprise founded by George Freeman MP to promote a vibrant rural economy in Mid Norfolk, in partnership with leading rural housing specialists Hastoe Group.

Rural communities across the county are particularly hard-hit by a lack of affordable homes – a situation which has seen the average age in rural areas rise as young people are priced out, and services like schools, post offices, pubs and shops are forced to close. So the Summit, which took place at Gressenhall Farm and Museum, aimed to reverse this trend by bringing together experts to discuss:

  • How a better approach to local housing can keep villages alive
  • How can Norfolk’s rural communities get the high quality homes they need?
  • What are the keys to delivering this vision?

Panellists at the event included:

  • Sue Chalkley, Chief Executive at Hastoe Housing Group
  • Paul Pitcher, Wellington Construction of Lowestoft
  • Tim Horspole, Director of Planning at South Norfolk Council
  • Chris Parsons, Parsons + Whittley Architects

The Minister for Rural Affairs, Lord Gardiner also joined the panel to listen to the audience and the responses.

George Freeman MP said: “Last Friday I was delighted to host a joint event between the Norfolk Way and Hastoe. It was great to have so many representatives from the local communities across Mid Norfolk and to have their great feedback with encouraging updates on best practice and importantly what can be done. Many supported the idea of a new Garden Village as part of a call for new models of growth. I look forward to working with all parties over the coming months to encourage positive grown whilst protecting our rural way of life.”

Hastoe Chief Executive Sue Chalkley said: “Hastoe are thrilled to have been involved in such a fantastic event, which helped to explore how we can work together to help solve the local housing crisis in Norfolk.

“In Norfolk and all over the country, rural communities are declining as local people are having to leave in search of somewhere affordable to live. We hope that Friday’s discussion has helped to inspire villages, landowners and local builders to come together to deliver affordable housing schemes that work for the benefit of everyone in Norfolk communities.”

The discussion was very well received by attendees who thoroughly enjoyed the event.

Jamie Athill from Gateley said: “An interesting and timely event – the affordability of rural housing is a very important issue that needs to be addressed.”

Gail Mayhew said: “Congratulations on a very interesting and useful event.”

Cllr Gordon Bambridge, Executive Member for Growth at Breckland, said: “Very interesting Summit.”

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