Rural Housing Week – do we want a living countryside?


sarah brooke-taylor


What do we want the countryside and rural England to look like in the future? A preserved landscape, a wilderness, a theme park, a place where only the wealthy can live? Or do we want a living, working countryside that contributes to national and local well-being, economically, socially and, importantly, environmentally?

Rural England is home to a wide range of economic activity in addition to farming and land-based jobs and it has a critical role to play in the development of the green economy and the move to net zero. Some rural communities are overdependent on a narrow range of business, such as tourism, and need to diversify.

Rural areas need thriving communities that sustain a mix of people from all walks of life, ages and backgrounds. We need to adjust some of the imbalances which characterise many rural places at present – an ageing population, a lack of young families, few opportunities socially or economically for young people, and few people from ethnic minority groups.

Housing has a major role to play and goes hand in hand with jobs. We need more affordable housing, of all types, in rural areas if we are to tackle some of the current inequalities and seize the opportunities in the future. We need to enable people from all backgrounds to contribute to the future of rural areas.

There is on ongoing housing crisis in the countryside. Too many homes of the wrong sort are being built, including estates of high-priced executive homes. There are not enough homes that are truly affordable to those on local incomes. Sadly this isn’t a new phenomenon. Sufficient numbers of affordable homes have not been built for many years. At the same time the supply of private rented housing has been reducing in recent years with the need for landlords to meet stricter requirements.

Would your rural community like to tackle it’s own shortage of affordable homes, whether that’s homes for rent, shared ownership or purchase? If so, contact the Rural Housing Enabler who can work with you to identify the types of homes required and help you to work towards a solution: or 01789 842182.