Housing summit held to tackle region’s lack of affordable rural homes

George Freeman MP jointly hosted the event with housing specialists Hastoe. Photo: Hilary Gauthier

George Freeman MP jointly hosted the event with housing specialists Hastoe. Photo: Hilary Gauthier - Credit: Archant

A housing summit has been held at Gressenhall Farm to tackle the issue of a lack of affordable homes in rural communities.

Mid-Norfolk MP George Freeman jointly hosted the half-day event, which was attended by more than 80 councillors, house builders, landowners, and planning experts.

The summit was convened by The Norfolk Way, a non-profit group founded by Mr Freeman, in partnership with leading rural housing specialists Hastoe Group.

Titled: 'Keeping Norfolk's villages vibrant', the summit focused on finding an approach to rural housing that maintains a sense of community amongst Norfolk's villagers.

Mr Freeman said: 'I was delighted to host a joint event with The Norfolk Way and Hastoe.

'It was great to have so many representatives from the local communities across mid-Norfolk and to have their feedback.

'Many supported the idea of a garden village as part of a call for new models of growth.

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'I look forward to working with all parties over the coming months to encourage positive growth whilst protecting our rural way of life.'

The event was held on Friday, October 13, and saw housing experts discuss the benefits to building affordable homes.

Panellists at the summit included Sue Chalkley, chief executive at Hastoe Housing Group, Paul Pitcher, of Wellington Construction of Lowestoft, Tim Horspole, planning director at South Norfolk Council, and Chris Parsons, of Parsons + Whittley Architects.

Minister for rural affairs, Lord Gardiner joined the panel to listen to the audience and hear their responses.

Sue Chalkley said: 'Hastoe are thrilled to have been involved in such a fantastic event.

'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 inspired villages, landowners and local builders to come together to deliver affordable housing schemes that work for the benefit of everyone.'

Jamie Athill, from Gateley, described it as a timely event.

He said: 'The affordability of rural housing is a very important issue that needs to be addressed.'

Councillor Gordon Bambridge, executive member for growth at Breckland Council, said he found the summit 'very interesting.'