From the editor: Rural communities need more than just vast housing estates

Rural DevelopmentHousing

If we are not careful many of our rural towns and villages could become merely exclusive enclaves for wealthy commuters or financially well-endowed retirees.


In those rural boroughs which find themselves within striking distance of large urban centres, this problem is heightened.


And while this influx can have a positive impact in some respects, there is also the risk that moneyed buyers choose not to engage with the locals and the community suffers as a result.


This is a generalisation, of course, but there is no doubt it is happening in rural areas across the UK and the impact can be widely felt as pubs and shops suffer from a lack of support as tastes change.


There is also the impact on the social fabric of communities as young people, faced with property prices out of their reach, are forced to look elsewhere in a bid to get a foot on the housing ladder, with the chance to return limited by income and job opportunities.


At the other end of the age scale there is the older farmer, often having saved for years only to be faced with the fact the small cottage in the nearby village or market town is now a no go as housing supply cannot keep up with demand and prices rocket.


That is why the Campaign for Rural England report is so timely. By enabling landowners to create affordable housing at the right scale and in the right place, the Government would provide a much needed lifeline to rural communities crying out for this extra accommodation.


Fundamental changes to the taxation system are also required as many farmers feel the only way to avoid punitive taxation is to die on the farm rather than sell the holding or pass it on.


In order to retain their vibrancy our rural towns and villages need housing plans tailored to the needs of their communities, not just vast new build housing estates on greenfield sites which price-out many prospective local buyers.


And finally.....


News some commons farmers are turning to food banks is a huge concern so let us hope the Rural Payments Agency gets its act together sooner rather than later.

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