Housing and planning

It’s been said that there’s no place like home, but as many villages know, lack of affordable housing is a real problem in rural areas. The inward migration of commuters, retirees and second homeowners, as well as various planning issues, has led to greatly inflated house prices.row of houses

Quite apart from the idea of the rural idyll, the reality of this for rural villagers can be real hardship, in the worst cases leading to homelessness or living in overcrowded or sub-standard accommodation, with knock-on effects on health and children’s education.

The result is undermining village life, as the younger generation can no longer afford to live in the areas they were born. Families and social networks suffer, as do vital services and enterprises.

However, something can be done, and many communities are now taking an active role in community land trusts, community planning, neighbourhood plans, housing cooperatives and housing associations. Rural communities are finding ways around housing and planning issues themselves to create vibrant, thriving rural villages.

Many villages begin by developing community neighbourhood plans – an inclusive process that is used to create both a broad vision for communities and an action plan to deliver it. They are often a key driver for setting up community-led affordable housing enterprises, like community land trusts or housing cooperatives.

A community land trust is a community organisation run by volunteers that develops housing or other assets at an affordable level. This is done either by separating the value of the building from the land it stands on or, as in the case of shared-equity homes, fixing the resale percentage, allowing occupiers to pay for the use of buildings at a price they can afford.

Housing cooperatives come in four forms in the UK: tenant owned cooperatives, tenant managed cooperatives, short-life housing cooperatives and self-build cooperatives.

Next steps

Get community support for your idea or read how others have taken the lead on local housing. Visit Village Communities to find other communities involved in planning and housing. Or check out these useful organisations:

•    Campaign to Protect Rural England
•    National Community Land Trust Network