HRH The Princess Royal was welcomed to Waverley on Thursday, 7 October to officially open a new affordable rural housing development in the village of Dunsfold.
Princess Anne met with residents and guests, including the Mayor of Waverley, Councillor John Robini, before viewing two of the affordable homes and performing the ceremonial honours by planting a maple tree. The tree-planting also celebrated The Queen’s Green Canopy initiative, created to mark Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022 which invites people from across the United Kingdom to “Plant a tree for the Jubilee”.
Having been recently completed, the small development of eight new homes in Miller Lane, built by English Rural, provides four houses and two flats that will benefit local people. Two additional homes have been made available at discounted local sale to cross-subsidise the affordable homes.
In a region where house values are 23 times the average local income, the homes have been made available at rents that are affordable to local people living, working in, or with close family connections to the village. Built in partnership with the local community, involving Dunsfold Parish Council, Waverley Borough Council and English Rural, this is the third scheme to be built in the village by English Rural, the first being completed in 1992.
Like many villages, Dunsfold has been affected by high house prices and lower-than-average wages, making it unaffordable for many local people to remain within their home communities close to family, work, and support networks. Planning restrictions have been agreed that will ensure the homes will always remain affordable and local people with a connection to Dunsfold will always take priority as residents.
Martin Collett, English Rural’s Chief Executive said: “We are proud to have hosted our Patron, Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal, at our latest development in Surrey, where we are committed to working with the local community and Parish and Borough Councils. The visit helps to promote the value that small-scale affordable housing developments can bring to villages like Dunsfold, providing well-designed homes in partnership with and for the benefit of the community. High-quality, affordable rural developments provide a secure and safe place for local people to live, in the communities they serve and support.”
After meeting residents and viewing the homes, HRH The Princess Royal joined invited guests and partners involved in the project over refreshments. Afterwards, Poppy Belle Terris-Webb (aged seven), presented a posy to the Princess.
The land in Miller Lane was provided by a family with a strong, historical connection to Dunsfold and contractor W. Stirland Ltd built the homes. Funding has been provided by English Rural and supported by grant contributions. The affordable rented homes will be owned and managed by English Rural and can never be sold on the open market. The site is known as a ‘Rural Exception Site’, which means development would not have normally been allowed but an exception to planning policy was made because the homes are designed to be affordable and meet local needs forever.
English Rural have applied the principles of ‘Fabric First’ construction, designing the homes to be highly energy efficient, while also being attractive, spacious, and comfortable. High levels of insulation have been used and Air Source Heat Pump technology provide affordable heating and hot water for residents, reducing energy use and keeping their fuel bills low.