Making the case for more affordable homes in rural England
In 2009 the Federation launched the ‘Save our villages’ campaign, which ended in 2012 with the backing of 50 rural councils.
Many villages and market towns are no longer affordable for local people, with house prices up to £40,000 higher than in urban areas despite lower average wages. The result is that young families and lower income earners are being priced away from the places where they grew up, local shops and services often disappearing with them.
The Federation raised the issue nationally and regionally, primarily focussing on getting the support of local councils. We asked councils to ensure they have a full understanding of housing need in their rural areas, and to publish an action plan to show how they will deal with it.
We also asked the Government to clear the obstacles in the way of new homes in the countryside, such as a lack of available land, arduous planning rules and vocal opposition groups.
What did we achieve?
- We gained the official backing of 50 rural councils – half of all rural councils in England – with each pledging to take action to tackle the shortage of affordable homes in their area.
- The campaign helped push affordable rural housing up the political agenda through meetings and events with MPs and relevant councillors, including two parliamentary receptions.
- The campaign was raised with Gordon Brown at Prime Minister’s Questions by a supportive MP, resulting in a face-to-face meeting with Defra Secretary Hilary Benn.
- It raised the profile of rural housing in the media, with around 100 national press stories mentioning the campaign and a further 400 articles in local and regional news.
- We built broad and creative alliances with a number of organisations to highlight the issues facing rural communities – including the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), Rural Shops Alliance, British Beer and Pub Association and National Association of Small Schools.
- We produced a short campaign film, Clare’s story, which was premiered at a House of Commons reception in March 2012.
The Federation will continue to make a strong case for more affordable homes in rural areas through its policy work, as well as through the Rural Alliance practitioner group.
A final briefing for the campaign was published in March 2012, outlining some of the successes of the campaign and the issues still facing rural communities.
Councils backing the campaign
A total of 50 councils backed the Save Our Villages campaign. The map below shows the location of each of them (click on the councils for more information).