A mix of good quality housing is essential if a community is to evolve in a sustainable way. Affordable rural housing plays a large role in achieving this by providing homes for those who might otherwise be forced to leave their village or town.
Enabling people to stay in their own community can boost local businesses and services, and help keep local schools open. However, barriers to sustainable development often exist, such as inappropriate use of planning constraints by local planning authorities, the reluctance of communities to understand the need to build a mix of housing and changes made by central Government to housing planning.
Affordability is the key issue for many people, especially with the cost of open-market homes increasing due to strong demand compounded by years of a shortfall in house building. Add to this the lower wages for rural workers, and local people wishing to buy or rent are priced out the community.
There are clear pressures on the land available for development in rural communities. Small-scale developers need to maximise profits and will often look to build as much market housing as they can – sometimes at the expense of the need for affordable housing.
The ACRE Network has provided support to groups looking to develop appropriate housing for their community. We encourage local people to explore a vision for their own future through the process of Community Planning which has been shown to change attitudes on accepting appropriate housing development.