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From the editor: Will rural love affair last for the longer term?

If the British are a nation of curtain twitchers then there is every chance I have joined their ranks. Since lockdown at the end of March, those Farmers Guardian staff who were office-based have swapped life on a business park for life at home.

For me that has meant watching village life pass by my window as the realities of rural Britain between the hours of 9am and 5pm have been brought home, quite literally.

 

On sunny days it has meant the urban masses heading for the local river for a noisy paddle and ubiquitous disposable barbecue (we know that because we can see burn marks in the grass).

 

For landowners it has meant an influx of people who, having possibly not gone abroad, have flocked to rural areas for respite, enjoyment and a break from the urban grind. Most enjoy the outdoors sensibly, although the odd family seen heading for fields with full sets of tables and chairs may have pushed things a little too far.


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Beyond pithy observations, however, it would appear the demand for rural living and leisure has never been higher. In this week’s property special, land and estate agents are reporting what many have suggested anecdotally, that demand for lifestyle plots in the countryside is surging.

 

This reported demand will surely be good for anyone looking to sell the right property, or may force the hand of farmers on smaller plots who have previously been waiting for the right time to monetise their assets.

 

But it also presents a range of questions and challenges for rural communities to grapple with. After all, rural villages and towns are far more than picture-postcard museums. Their strength comes from having a mixture of people within them who are willing to contribute to their social vibrancy, not just those seeking solace or even second homes.

 

While a short-term impact of the pandemic has been for some to cast their eyes to rural life, whether that continues to be the case when, and if, things return to normal will be interesting to watch unfold.

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