I welcomed the news that the RICS’ Rural Policy Paper is calling for modern-day Lord Downtons to give up land for much-needed affordable housing (‘Landed gentry hold key to thousands of affordable homes’, PropertyWeek.com. 31.12.15).
Rural communities are becoming increasingly unsustainable because young people cannot afford to rent or buy a home in them. If England’s 5,000 largest rural estates were to give up land for housing, it would help young people to stay in their communities, ensuring their ongoing vitality.
Many rural communities are very desirable places to live, but the supply of smaller properties that would serve as starter homes is often very limited. As a result there is high demand for property in England’s beautiful and historic small towns and villages, leading to sky-high prices. If we do nothing, our rural communities will become little more than expensive retirement towns for the well-heeled.
Building new housing developments on England’s country estates will also be a great opportunity to create homes that feel like they belong to the area, by incorporating the local history of the country estate into the architecture, branding and marketing.
When you look at the fascinating history and architecture to be found on England’s country estates, it really does offer up a wealth of exciting possibilities. It would enable the new homes to become part of the local narrative. These new developments could offer a chance to be part of the community, not an opportunity for yet more homogenisation.
Jake Mason, CEO, Evolve