English Rural & University College London Join Forces To Help Fix The Rural Affordable Housing Crisis

English Rural, a leading specialist rural housing association, has teamed up with researchers from University College London (UCL) to investigate how unlocking small plots of under-utilised land can help fix the housing crisis in rural England. The research will use a variety of research methods and case-studies to investigate how local communities, government and particularly landowners can play their part in addressing the issue.

In the last five years, house prices in rural areas have risen by 21% and are rising twice as fast as urban areas. With 17% of English households living in the countryside and an increase in demand for living in rural areas post-COVID, there is considerable pressure for more rural housing to be built. Because of the shortage of genuinely affordable homes, many people are forced to move away from their families, support networks and places of work to the detriment of local community and services.

The 12-month collaboration, funded by the Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF), will focus on the policies designed to enable affordable rural housing developments and lack of available land as a critical barrier to progressing small-scale affordable housing schemes in rural areas. Given the challenge that securing land can represent, the role that landowners can play and the incentives and innovations that can help deliver affordable rural homes will also be examined. Working closely with English Rural, the UCL team will undertake local case studies of project delivery and explore the implications of the changing policy and funding environment for rural housing associations. The goal is to identify what works best and to help the rural housing sector adapt to the shifting sands of planning and housing policy.

UCL Professor Nick Gallent, who is leading the research alongside colleagues Dr Iqbal Hamiduddin and Dr Phoebe Stirling, said:

Professor Nick Gallent

“Landowners, working together with housing associations, the community, and local authorities, have a crucial role in helping to fix the rural housing crisis. We have been researching rural housing processes and outcomes for many years and the HEIF grant allows us to work directly with English Rural, examining the challenges it is facing now and will face in the years ahead. We are very excited at the prospect of developing an enduring relationship with the association”.

Commenting on the research, Martin Collett, Chief Executive of English Rural said:

Martin Collett

Martin Collett

“Unlocking and securing land is a huge challenge when getting more affordable homes built. We hope to learn from the research and better understand a dynamic that will lead to an increase in sites being made available, so that more affordable homes can be built. Collaborating with Professor Gallent and his team to uncover ways in which we can work more effectively with landowners is key to securing a legacy for the future prosperity of rural communities”.

The project started on 1st March 2022 and is due to complete at the end of February 2023. Funding for this project has come from Research England’s Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF), with additional support from UCL’s ‘Grand Challenges’ initiative and support in-kind from English Rural.

Contact Details:
For further information, please contact David Barrowcliff, Communications Manager, English Rural, on david.barrowcliff@englishrural.org.uk or 020 7820 7930.

About English Rural:
English Rural is a Registered Social Landlord, established in 1991 to provide affordable homes in small villages for local people. Developments built by English Rural are community-led, meet local needs, and help to maintain sustainable rural communities. It currently owns and manages around 1,250 affordable properties, spread amongst 130 UK villages, and has a development programme of over 250 additional homes.
Website: englishrural.org.uk | Twitter: @EnglishRural

About The Bartlett School of Planning at UCL:
The Bartlett School of Planning is one of the leading research-led planning schools within Europe with an international reputation as a centre of academic excellence in research, teaching and policy and practice interaction. Located within the heart of one of the world’s greatest cities, the School’s research and teaching opportunities provide a unique laboratory for knowledge creation, rich in academic, cultural, and social diversity.
Website: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/bartlett/planning/ | Twitter: @UCL_BSP

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