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Housing crisis threatens survival of rural communities: CPRE report

27th December 2023

A November 2023 CPRE report shows that a lack of affordable housing is putting the survival of rural communities at risk, and provides recommendations for solutions.

The chronic shortage of houses local people can afford to live in has resulted in levels of homelessness rising by 40% in just 5 years. More than 300,000 people are on the waiting list for social rented housing in rural England.

And because people are being forced to leave, the countryside is being drained of skills, economic activity, and vital public services.

Key problems include:

  • The high price of ‘affordable’ housing, due to planning policy defining ‘affordable’ as anything up to 80% of market value.
  • The lack of new building to replace social homes lost through the Right to Buy scheme.
  • The relatively low level of rural wages when compared to ever-increasing house prices.
  • The rapid rise in the number of second homes and homes available for holiday let.

Decades of inaction have led to today’s crisis, which is having a devastating effect on individuals and communities. Yet rural homelessness is often overlooked by policymakers and neglected in public discussion.

Despite the challenges, CPRE believes that the problems are not insurmountable. Urgent changes to planning policy and other legislation could unlock housing availability, allowing people to stay in their local communities. This in turn would help build sustainable rural economies where both people and the countryside can thrive.

Read the report



New houses around children's play area
Photo by Nick Hawkes on Unsplash