UCL Grand Challenges


Covid-19 and the Challenges for Rural Amenity Areas

Exploring how the Covid-19 pandemic affected housing market choices and outcomes in Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales.

A row of houses and a caravan.

3 October 2020


Grant: Grand Challenges Special Initiatives - Place
Year awarded: 2020-21
Amount awarded: £5,800


  • Prof Iqbal Hamiduddin, Bartlett School of Planning, The Bartlett/Built Environment
  • Prof Nick Gallent, Bartlett School of Planning, The Bartlett/Built Environment

The project undertook a case study of how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected housing market choices and outcomes in the Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales.

Undertaking background analysis, conducting interviews, and field visits, the research found a significant shift in the balance of local and non-local buyers in the housing market. There has been a significant price uplift. However, the park is enduring a serious water quality issue which is impeding development. New permissions are not being granted. It is difficult to untangle the impacts of water quality and the pandemic on the trajectory of house prices, but it is clear that market intrusion is a complicating factor. We are exploring the geography of the market in the park and have identified an important east-west divide, with the west now feeling the impacts of lifestyle and work related mobility. But there are few second homes in the park and few wider cultural considerations.

For that reason, and in light of findings, the project team intend to extend the work into Snowdonia, North Wales and examine more broadly market change across Wales. The team have contributed to recent analysis of the second home issue in Wales and potential responses. Therefore a wider study looking at second homes and market change mid-pandemic may provide a more complete picture of Covid effects and their longevity.

To date, a key impact of the project has been the relationship built with the National Park Authority. This has led to further work on rural planning funded by the RTPI and other Bartlett colleagues are now in touch with the NPA regarding water quality responses and development pace. There is a also a continuing research relationship with Brecon Beacon National Park officers.

As a result of this project, UCL has become closer to the issues faced in Brecon. The officers had never collaborated with a major university before and the project has changed their expectations of what those relationships can deliver, for their area.

Impacts and Outputs