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07 July 2021

Facing the challenges of rural housing with Monmouthshire Housing Association

Facing the challenges of rural housing with Monmouthshire Housing Association
As our name suggests, MHA operate across the beautiful rural county of Monmouthshire; comprising quaint villages, vibrant towns and surrounded by the Black mountains, it might sound idyllic, but with this also comes a host of challenges for developers and those wishing to live in Monmouthshire.

Housing prices are incredibly high and continue to rise, meaning many local people are unable to buy or rent a home to meet their needs.

Monmouthshire County Council’s Local Housing Market Assessment 2018 sums up the current position…

“A significant issue for Monmouthshire is the fact that house prices are high in relation to earnings so that there is a need for additional affordable housing in the County in both urban and rural areas, particularly for those that live and work in Monmouthshire”.

MHA work with many partners to increase the provision of affordable homes and services, although this can be a painstaking process that doesn’t occur overnight.

David James, Rural Housing Enabler for Monmouthshire works tirelessly with housing associations zoned to work in Monmouthshire, to unlock opportunities for creating more affordable homes and thriving communities. David said …

“It’s a difficult task to create affordable housing as there tend to be so many constraints, from land availability to services, sewage treatment etc - everything seems to work against us, but we have to keep on doing what we are doing, working closely with communities to get support and support their needs because if we don’t provide affordable housing, communities will die. If all youngsters move away they become retirement communities, and we can’t afford for this to happen to our villages. Communities need to be sustainable, where families can prosper, and homes can be enjoyed by future generations.”

Aerial photo of houses

Relationships are absolutely key. MHA works closely with a range of critical bodies to help deliver what people need. We work collectively with many partners including residents, land owners, community councils, developers the local authority and Welsh Government. This is absolutely critical to making things happen.

A fantastic example of this are 3 new affordable homes we recently delivered in historic Tintern. Consultation started way back in 2008, to deliver homes that would meet the needs of local people.

Two of the new families to move in were sisters Sarah and Sally Bell who were facing moving out of a community they had been brought up in, and they loved.

Sarah said: “I can’t believe it has happened, and we get to live here. I feel so lucky. Both my sister and I wanted our children to grow up in Tintern and go to the same school we did, and now they can. It feels like we have hit the jackpot”.

As well as increasing the provision of affordable housing, people are struggling to get on the property ladder in Monmouthshire. “Monmouthshire’s average house price has now risen from £301,572 in March 2018 to £321,870 in 2021 (Rightmove)”, so most first time buyers and people wishing to re-enter the market are priced out of the market. MHA operate the ‘Homebuy’ scheme to help people to be able to take the first step.

David Tyler was one such person, who recently purchased a home via their Homebuy scheme in Monmouth “As my children had moved out I wanted to downsize, but it’s so expensive to buy a house in Monmouthshire I was worried I’d be stuck renting.

I’ve now moved into a lovely new home that meets my needs and am paying significantly less than renting every month, it’s changed my life”,

Moving forward MHA will continue to work closely with communities to help meet their individual needs, increasing the provision of affordable housing for local people, whilst protecting what we got, and supporting shops and businesses to flourish.

Monmouthshire is an amazing County and place to live, but villages must be sustainable.