The Bartlett School of Planning


BSP team helps fix the rural affordable housing crisis

7 April 2022

Researchers from BSP have teamed up with English Rural, a leading specialist rural housing association, to investigate how unlocking small plots of under-utilised land can help fix the housing crisis in rural England.

Rural housing

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 BSP 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.

Professor Nick Gallent, who is leading the research alongside colleagues Dr Iqbal Hamiduddin (BSP) and Dr Phoebe Stirling (University of Cambridge), 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.