The Bartlett School of Planning


New BSP research gives first insights into solution to housing crisis in rural England

5 July 2023

Dr Phoebe Stirling shares early insights of a Bartlett School of Planning/English Rural collaborative research project investigating a solution to the afforable housing crisis in rural England.

Housing in rural England

Read blog post on the English Rural website

English Rural, a leading specialist rural housing association, has teamed up with Professor Nick GallentDr Iqbal Hamiduddin and Dr Phoebe Stirling to investigate how unlocking small plots of under-utilised land can help fix the housing crisis in rural England.

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 research focuses on the role of Rural Exception Sites (RES) as a key solution. A RES is developed on land that would not usually secure planning, but this is granted on an “exceptional” basis if the homes that are built remain affordable for local people in perpetuity. The research's core themes pivot around the significance of RES, the role of landowners, incentives for their engagement, and recommendations for a more robust affordable rural housing strategy.

Read more about the project's early insights above.