The project will build on initiatives by both organisations over the past few years and compliments the work of the Rural Affordable Housing Group (RAHG), chaired by HCA board member Candy Atherton, who also spoke at the event.
Secretary of State Hilary Benn said: "Affordable housing is vital to sustainable rural communities. We are committed to achieving the target of 10,300 new homes in small rural communities between 2008/2011. This project will give advice and support to local authorities responsible for delivering those targets."
In launching the project, Colin Molton, Regional Director of HCA for the South West, said: "Affordable housing in rural areas has been recognised as deserving of special attention by both organisations. We are very mindful of the challenges facing local authorities in addressing this issue.
"We intend the project to do more than just highlight the needs and challenges associated with rural affordable housing. It will also promote joint working within rural communities to ensure that affordable housing for rent or purchase is achievable. Additionally the project will provide clear guidance on how central Government agencies such as the HCA and Defra can assist.
"This project is a very tangible way in which we can assist local authorities address the housing needs of small communities."
In speaking at the event Candy Atherton, Chair of RAHG said: "The sustainability of rural areas is an issue of crucial importance, and housing availability is integral to this. There is already a lack of affordable housing in rural areas, and the current economic climate means that situation is in danger of continuing.
"This project offers an important opportunity to address some of the issues which local authorities and their partners are facing, and for the HCA to take action to assist in helping them to increase delivery."
Key issues which were discussed at the event included: the availability of land, planning policy, community involvement, partnership working and sustainability.
A further event to review progress on sharing best practice; practical support to local authorities and their partners; and setting up future delivery will be held in October this year with a national report delivered at the culmination of the project in March 2010.
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