Princess Anne visits county

RURAL housing issues will be at the top of the Royal agenda today when Princess Anne visits Suffolk.The Princess will be visiting three venues in the county, including Polstead Village Hall, near Hadleigh, where she will speak at a seminar about the need to make housing more affordable in small villages.

RURAL housing issues will be at the top of the Royal agenda today when Princess Anne visits Suffolk.

The Princess will be visiting three venues in the county, including Polstead Village Hall, near Hadleigh, where she will speak at a seminar about the need to make housing more affordable in small villages.

She will be speaking in her role as president of the Rural Housing Trust, a charity that has been campaigning for cheaper housing in villages since 1976.

The Princess has been president of the Trust since 1988.

She will travel to Suffolk by helicopter and Polstead will be her first engagement of the day.

She is expected to arrive at 2pm and before giving her speech will meet Suffolk chief constable Alastair McWhirter, Major Carol Gurney, the deputy lieutenant of Suffolk, Babergh District Council chair Sue Wigglesworth, council chief executive Pat Rockall and Moira Constable, chief executive of the Rural Housing Trust.

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During her speech the Princess is expected to talk why it is so important consideration is given to ensuring houses in villages are affordable to local people. She will talk about the numbers of young people who are often forced to leave their home villages because house prices are so high.

The seminar is also being supported by the Town and Country Planning Association and trustee Richard Butt, who will chair the event said:

"At last increasing the supply of affordable housing is high on the government's agenda.

"It is important though, that rural housing needs also receive higher priority and that the distinctive solutions which have been painstakingly evolved for tackling them are used to the full.

"The risk otherwise is of losing a living and working countryside."

After her visit to Polstead, the Princess will travel to Lowestoft where she will meet workers at the Citizens Advice Bureau.

The visit to the town is to mark the fortieth anniversary of the bureau there.

The final visit of the day will be to Bury St Edmunds to be a part of celebrations to mark the completion of the new cathedral tower.

After a performance by the Suffolk Youth Orchestra, Poet Laureate Andrew Motion will read some of his poetry.

The reading will be followed by a prize giving for a county wide poetry competition, with the Princess meeting each of the prize winners to present their certificates.

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