People make communities. And vibrant communities undoubtedly make better places to live. But without affordable housing, rural communities are at risk of losing people who live and work there, who sustain local services, and who volunteer their time to help others. In the long run, this will lead to a countryside characterised by exclusive, ageing, and lifeless settlements.
There is an urgent need to secure a change of government policy to one that encourages and supports rural communities to embrace growth and secure the homes people need locally, especially for younger generations who often have no choice but to move away.
New homes must also strike a balance between retaining the unique character of rural places whilst being fit for the future. With enormous environmental challenges ahead, these homes must be well insulated and make the most of low carbon technologies wherever possible to contribute to carbon net zero efforts.
Members of the ACRE Network have championed the need for affordable housing in rural areas for over thirty years. Many of our members provide the first and essential source of independent advice to enable rural communities to take the lead on developing local affordable housing schemes.
Rural Housing Enablers are key to achieving the small schemes that are now, in many villages, the only source of affordable rented housing in the village. Maintaining and developing this support is a high priority us.
Alongside our members support for small community-led housing schemes, we are calling on government to:
Invest in locally led housing that is genuinely affordable to people working locally, including the infrastructure to go with it. This must include hands-on support for schemes such as rural exception sites and positive Local Plan policies
Ensure that all village communities, especially smaller ones and those located in environmentally protected areas, are entitled under the planning system to affordable housing provided, on site, from any open market development
Require developers to use zero-carbon technologies when building new homes to create employment opportunities, support local businesses, combat fuel poverty and tackle the climate crisis