History

To understand our work, you need to go back to the 1970s when life for the Rural Housing Trust began.

1975-76

Life for the National Agricultural Centre Rural Trust (known now as the Rural Housing Trust) begins at the Arthur Rank Centre at the Royal Agricultural Society of England (RASE), in Stoneleigh, Warwickshire. Set up in response to a shortage of suitable accommodation in villages for retiring farm workers.

1978

RHT’s first development of 6 bungalows for the elderly is opened at Micheldever, Hampshire.

1979-82

Years of disappointment and frustration when only two further schemes are built in Suffolk and Shropshire.

1982

Gordon Lee-Steere, then a Trustee, Charlie Smith-Ryland, then Chairman of the Rural Housing Trust and Moira Constable, then Chief Executive of the Trust, are members of HRH The Duke of Edinburgh’s Inquiry into Rural Housing. The report is published.

1983

Objectives of RHT expanded to meet housing needs of all age groups and occupations in the rural community, especially in small villages.

Grant received from Housing Associations’ Charitable Trust to follow up on Duke of Edinburgh’s report and employ its first full time member of staff.

1985-90

RHT establishes specialist Rural Housing Associations with funding from the Housing Corporation and the Rural Development Commission.

1987

RHT publishes Village Homes for Village People, a major report on village housing problems. Government Ministers begin to take an interest.

RHT establishes English Villages Housing Association in response to need for shared ownership housing. (EVHA’s name changed in 2004 to RHT Developments.)

1988

Government launches Rural Housing Initiative which includes substantial extra funding for the Trust through the Rural Development Commission enabling the Trust to expand. RDC funding enables Trust to support 15 RHAs which are founded and fostered until they become self-sufficient.

HRH The Princess Royal becomes President

Chief Executive, Moira Constable, spends a month travelling to meetings on a bicycle trying to raise awareness and raise funds.

RHT’s first scheme of shared ownership housing opens (Ashdon, Essex). Its unique form of shared ownership is provided without grant, enabling equity to be fixed, thus avoiding windfall gains and ensuring the home remains affordable in future.

Trustee, The Rt Rev Anthony Russell’s membership of the Archbishops’ Commission on Rural Affairs (ACORA) leads to The Rt Hon The Lord Prior becoming Chairman (retires 1999).

1989

RHT publishes A Practical Guide to Providing Affordable Housing – the ultimate step by step manual.

Secretary of State for the Environment, Nicholas Ridley, endorses the release of exception sites for affordable village housing.

1990

The 300th RHT home is completed.

1991

RHT’s pioneering approach to acquiring affordable land in villages is enshrined in Department of the Environment Planning Circular, PPG3.

EVHA completes its 100th home.

RHT establishes first national RHA – English Rural Housing Association.

1993

RHT negotiates a £8 million finance package with the Cooperative Bank for new developments on exception sites.

1994/95

Housing Corporation funding allocations for village schemes peaks at 2,399 houses.

1995

RHT is one of the first recipients of National Lottery money, receiving £100,000 for 3 years. (Other significant charitable grants over the years are received from the Rank Foundation, Tudor Trust, HACT and Henry Smith Charity.)

After strong lobbying, Government announces that in small villages the right to buy will not apply and staircasing to full ownership of shared ownership houses will be limited to 80%.

1996

Hansard records a fall of 20% in amount of new social housing in rural areas.

1997

RHT publishes ‘Building a Future – a guide to providing affordable housing for Parish Councils’.

1998-99

Housing Corporation funding allocations for village schemes at all-time low of 887 houses.

1999

Gordon Lee-Steere becomes Chairman.

2000

Government’s Rural White Paper promises more funding for small village housing schemes. (Moira Constable on Ministerial Sounding Board for drafting of Rural White Paper.)

2001-02

First year of increased funding sees RHT complete its 286th scheme working with RHAs and other customer housing associations.

2008

RHT continues to campaign for funding of village housing schemes and retention of exception site policy; it argues against rights to buy and staircasing in small villages and sits on a number of rural advisory groups and discussion panels. It provides evidence to Affordable Rural Housing Commission and Taylor Review and Moira Constable speaks at party conferences and other national events.

RHT goes on to build a total of 3,000 houses in 350 villages.

Sir Edward Greenwell becomes Chairman.

Moira Constable retires.

The Trust completes its first environmentally friendly affordable housing scheme at Leaden Roding, Essex.

July 2011

RHT transfers ownership of RHTD to the Hobden Group, ensuring that shared owners continue to enjoy the same rights.

October 2011

RHTD is renamed the Rural Housing Trust Limited and new shared ownership housing developments are planned.