Dadson Court, Smarden, Kent
A local needs development enabled through the rural exception site process.
English Rural Housing Association
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Smarden Parish Council; Ashford Borough Council; Action with Communities in Rural Kent; Homes & Communities Agency
The development is a mixed housing scheme with 12 properties for both rent and shared ownership and at the time of completion provided accommodation for 28 local people.
Homes were constructed to a high standard, incorporating features such as ground source heat pumps to minimise running costs. Local design features such as weatherboarding were also used to ensure the homes sat sympathetically alongside the existing settlement.
The development was the result of a partnership between English Rural Housing Association and the key partner organisations. Close consultation was undertaken with the local community who were involved at each stage of the enabling process.
Smarden is typical of many rural villages, in that it had seen limited development over recent years, which coinciding with demand for rural living and increasing property values resulted in many local households unable to afford to remain in the village.
Unlike many villages, Smarden has a particularly active community and range of services/businesses located within it. As well as a popular primary school.
The development helped to meet a need for homes identified by the Rural Housing Enabler, who worked closely with the local community to undertake a detailed housing needs assessment.
The development comprises of 4 x one bedroom flats, 4 x two bedroom houses and 2 x 3 bedroom houses for rent; 1 x 2 bedroom house and 1 x 3 bedroom house for shared ownership sale.
All tenancies were let at social rents and shared ownership homes were sold on the basis of 56% or 58% equity sale. The tenure mix and property size was determined by the needs evidence collated and tailored to ensure maximum benefit for a range of local households.
English Rural was one of the first social housing providers to look to fully understand and develop the use of Social Return on Investment and Dadson Court, Smarden was the development chosen for the pilot project.
The outcome was that English Rural identified that for every £ invested in local needs housing in the community, the social return is £6.50. English Rural saw the introduction of the Public Services (Social Value Act 2012) as an excellent opportunity to attempt to quantify the social and economic value of their work with rural communities.
A project group was established to find out more about English Rural’s Social Return on Investment whilst feeding this work into their emerging Value for Money Strategy. The project group sought to demonstrate the additional social and economic value that local needs housing schemes provided by English Rural, can bring to rural communities, whilst endeavouring to establish the £ value of this.
All key stakeholders were interviewed and an Impact Assessment completed using a specific SROI software programme supported by the Cabinet Office for Social Value. A full copy of the Social Return on Investment report and its findings can be seen at http://englishrural.org.uk/about-us/company-information/
Build costs £1,320,497 HCA £677,000
“Moving to Dadson Court has improved my life 100%. I now have a secure and good quality home and I can stay close to my family and friends” Resident
“The whole family now have a much better quality of life. We are in a home we love, close to our family and friends and no longer feel isolated from the community we grew up in” Resident
“I am hoping to get back into employment once I finish my training course. I wouldn’t be able to do this if I hadn’t moved back to the village and have my family close by to help out with childcare” Resident