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Last Updated: Friday, 18 February, 2005, 08:59 GMT
Prince launches rural homes guide
Prince Charles
Prince Charles hopes the guides will give business practical help
Prince Charles is launching two new guides to help businesses build affordable housing in the countryside.

A long-time campaigner for the countryside, the Prince of Wales is getting involved as part of his affordable rural housing initiative.

That has gained support from the Duke of Westminster and the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, among others.

Booming house prices fuelled by second home owners have priced many country dwellers out of the market.

The prince said the guides being launched offered "very practical help".

'Overcoming hurdles'

He said they described "in simple terms the paths that can be followed to tackle the very real and urgent need for affordable rural housing.

"If just half of the rural settlements in England and Wales had one new affordable housing development of five or six homes, and if just one business in each market town were to convert empty space, we would have made real progress in ensuring our rural communities remain vibrant and sustainable."

The guides launch at St James's Palace comes in the same week that Prince Charles hosted Chancellor Gordon Brown on a tour of his model village Poundbury, on the outskirts of Dorchester, in Dorset.

Conceived to inspire town planning, the community is also the site of affordable housing being built as part of a 25-year construction plan.

The chancellor was shown around a 290,000 three-bedroom flat earmarked for social housing

The Poundbury project aims to mix high-density and private and affordable facilities along with work and leisure facilities.

The model village was begun in 1993 and is home to 750 people

Among those supporting the prince's guides is the Business in the Community network, an independent business-led charity with 700 member companies.

It believes many companies - whether they are landowners, local service providers, house builders or private investors - are well placed to create affordable housing in rural areas.

Libby Sandbrook, the network's affordable rural housing director, said: "Many businesses want to get involved but are deterred because housing is not their mainstream business and they are not familiar with the process.

"Many are put off at the first hurdle. These guides aim to overcome this by describing in simple terms the different options available."

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