Rural developer forced to close
The Rural Housing Trust will stop building homes and make most of its staff redundant after being hit by the economic downturn.
It has built more than 3,000 affordable homes in villages and was dependent on income from selling these to housing associations. Since the economic downturn landlords have been unwilling to buy.
Bosses have decided to wind up its development business once current schemes are finished, and 18 of the 20 staff directly employed by the RHT will be made redundant during the next six months.
Spokeswoman Janet Hart said: ‘We relied on housing associations to get funding… obviously housing associations are feeling the force of the climate. It is a knock-on effect.’
The trust has existed since 1976 and developed rural homes for rent and shared ownership.
Ms Hart insisted the demand for shared ownership is still ‘very, very high’ but housing associations are being put off by low mortgage availability and house prices, as well as their own financial pressures.
The trust had been in merger talks with an unnamed organisation in recent months, but the deal has stalled.
It will continue to exist as a pressure group, and trustees hope other developers will take on some of the 100 small schemes still at planning stage.
‘We wouldn’t want to see these abandoned. We will be doing what we can to ensure that these are picked up by other like-minded organisations,’ Ms Hart said.
‘We work very closely in the villages with local people and have the kind of relationships built up over time.
‘Finishing in this way when there is such a big need for affordable rural housing is very upsetting.’