Technology vital to solving rural housing shortage


Better broadband access and improved transport options are key if more new homes are to be built in rural areas according to a new report.

The Countryside Landowners Association (CLA) has found that over 2,000 villages in 70 rural areas across England are being classed as ‘unsustainable’ by their local authorities. As a result, plans for new housing are not allocated to them, leading to fears of stagnation – what the CLA calls “a cycle of decline”.

But the CLA says the way in which villages are being classified as unsustainable needs updating to take advances in technology into account. They point to the finding that just 18% of local authorities consider broadband when assessing sustainability in a rural settlement, in contrast to 90% of them including post offices, primary schools and pubs in the same assessments.

Faster broadband will be a legal right

They find that rural areas are being classed as unsustainable based on criteria from decades ago, therefore modern facilities like broadband are less likely to be improved in these areas. Giving everyone access to broadband speeds of at least 10Mbps by 2020 as part of a Universal Service Obligation will be a legal right for broadband providers, according to the Government.

A complete switchover from the current copper-based networks to full fibre in the UK could take place by 2030, with new-build homes being prioritised alongside remote rural areas,  a report released by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said recently.

Cornwall leads the way in the report’s findings with 213 unsustainable villages, followed by Wiltshire with 168 from the total of 2,154.

“Beneficial development can only be approved if the settlement is considered sustainable in the first place,” says the CLA in its report Sustainable Villages – making rural communities fit for the future.

“Failure to overcome this hurdle essentially stagnates the settlement – freezing it in time – potentially for the life of the adopted development plan.”

Change needed as rural population becomes car reliant

Settlements with fewer services from the list used by local authorities are deemed unsustainable, with under 50% of the authorities considering petrol stations and garages. With public transport hitting a 28-year low last February, rural residents are relying on cars for commuting, the school run and reaching essential services.

The CLA report underlines the need for more housing nearer to services or with better digital connections to reduce carbon footprints and improve lives. It also flags up an innovative idea from the Arundell Arms Hotel in Lifton, Devon, which has Tesla supercharger points in its car park. But it also points out that none of the areas it assessed whether rural settlements had electric car charging points, something set to become more vital as the country strives to reduce carbon emissions.

The report concludes that, “Technology and digital connectivity have huge potential to achieve this and strengthen the rural economy. Ultimately, addressing the economic and social needs of the people who live in that area is the long-term solution to the rural housing crisis.”

With the Government setting out ambitious targets to build thousands of new homes each year, revising how villages and hamlets are assessed and upgrading technology appears to be essential.

Highgrove Mews

High Net Yield Freehold Houses

  • Commutable to London (27 mins to central Paddington station)
  • Rental demand extremely strong with large industry presence in Reading
  • Freehold with 4% net yield

£284,955 - £457,000

St Petersgate – Stockport Manchester

New Launch - Stockport Manchester, apartments from £160,000

  • Discounted launch prices from £160,000
  • Excellent transport links with 3 trains per hour to London Euston and only 9 mins journey to Manchester Piccadilly
  • Experienced development team

Assured Rent Housing Association Leases

Assured Rent Housing Association Leases

  • Assured rent & no rental voids
  • Tenant damage cover & newly refurbished inline with requirements of a corporate sitting tenant
  • Free property and lettings management

From £62,000

Emerging Birmingham Commuter Town With Properties From Just £104,000

The emerging Birmingham commuter town where properties are selling in an average of just 24 days

  • A collection of 62 two bedroom apartments and 28 one bedroom apartments.
  • DE14 is one of the fastest selling postcodes in the West Midlands.
  • 23 minute train journey into Birmingham New Street Station.

Properties from £104,000

Mill, Stockport

The Northwest's emerging property hotspot

  • Discounted off-plan 2-bed prices from £162,000
  • Completion date - Q4 2021
  • Rental yields - 6% plus

Discounted off-plan 2-bed prices from £162,000

South Central – Birmingham City Centre Apartments

Highly anticipated 28 storey launch in Birmingham City Centre with an impressive roof garden and communal facilities.

  • 154 units across 28 storeys
  • Residential multi-media community room, gym, roof garden and sky cinema
  • Excellent future connectivity via the metro system to other key transport hubs and locations around the city

from £205,800


Talk to us

Speak to our UK property experts today: 

+44 (0) 333 123 0320

Open from 9am-6pm GMT

+852 9865 4446

Open from 9am-6pm HKT

Stamp Duty Calculator


Unlock members only investment opportunities and full development details. Join now – it’s free, quick and easy.


Not a member? Sign up for free

Rural scene with a train

Technology vital to solving rural housing shortage


By submitting your details via this online form you agree to be contacted via email/phone/SMS by Direct Marketplace Ltd t/a BuyAssociation in relation to property investment and property developments . We do not share your personal details with third parties.  To view our full Privacy Policy click here.