HER Royal Highness The Princess Royal will be delivering a keynote speech at the national affordable rural housing seminar being held in Cheltenham on 21st February 2014. The Princess Royal, who will be attending in her capacity as Patron of English Rural Housing Association, will be addressing delegates at the event jointly organised by the Rural Services Network and Rural Housing Alliance. The Princess Royal will be joined by speakers from the National Housing Federation, Chartered Institute of Housing and affordable rural housing providers.

The seminar will also mark the launch of a new partnership, which is aimed at securing and promoting a collaborative national approach to advocating the need for affordable rural housing. The partnership brings together the membership based Rural Services Network, an organisation devoted to safeguarding and improving services in rural communities across England with the Rural Housing Alliance, which is a leading group of affordable housing providers from across England with a specific interest in enabling, supporting and developing affordable rural homes for the benefit of local people and communities.

The lack of affordable homes is a problem affecting the wellbeing of rural communities across England. Higher property values, limited investment in delivering affordable homes, migration of high income households to rural areas and seasonal or low paid employment opportunities have all contributed to the current crisis facing rural areas, where many local households who are critical to the welfare of their communities are forced to move due to the lack of suitable or affordable homes. The seminar will consider the challenges facing rural communities and those involved in addressing these, identify areas of good practice, innovation and opportunities for the future; all of which are critical given the reduced availability of public and the continued marginalisation of rural influences within the policy making process.

Commenting on the event, Peter Moore, Chairman of the Rural Housing Alliance and Chief Executive of Cornwall Rural Housing Association, said:- "The new partnership between the Rural Housing Alliance and the Rural Services Network highlights the importance of rural interest groups working together, both to achieve their individual objectives but also for the broader benefit of the rural communities we are all working with. Our collective voice and potential to make a difference at national, regional and local levels is significantly greater when we work together. As well as launching the partnership, we hope that the seminar will help to inspire delegates from across the country to help tackle the affordable housing crisis affecting our countryside in their own areas. The attendance and contribution of HRH The Princess Royal to the event will certainly help us in achieving this aim.”

Graham Biggs, Chief Executive, the Rural Services Network, said:- "The Rural Services Network is delighted to be forming a partnership with The Rural Housing Alliance. The lack of affordable rural housing has been a longstanding concern across our membership and the opportunity to work with the highly respected practitioners in this way is an opportunity to act on this. As well as attracting high profile speakers, including HRH The Princess Royal, delegates at the seminar will include senior decision makers from local authorities, rural interest groups and housing providers from across England, whose collective efforts can make a real difference to this issue.”

Commenting on the attendance of HRH The Princess Royal, Adrian Maunders, Chief Executive said: - “English Rural Housing Association was delighted when HRH The Princess Royal agreed to become our Patron in 2013 given the longstanding interest and support she has shown in the provision of affordable rural homes. We are equally delighted that she kindly agreed to speak at the seminar on our behalf and continues to help us advocate around this issue.”