Rural scene with a train

Technology vital to solving rural housing shortage

Better broadband access and improved transport options are key if more new homes are to be built in rural areas according to a new report.

The Countryside Landowners Association (CLA) has found that over 2,000 villages in 70 rural areas across England are being classed as ‘unsustainable’ by their local authorities. As a result, plans for new housing are not allocated to them, leading to fears of stagnation – what the CLA calls “a cycle of decline”.

But the CLA says the way in which villages are being classified as unsustainable needs updating to take advances in technology into account. They point to the finding that just 18% of local authorities consider broadband when assessing sustainability in a rural settlement, in contrast to 90% of them including post offices, primary schools and pubs in the same assessments.

Faster broadband will be a legal right

They find that rural areas are being classed as unsustainable based on criteria from decades ago, therefore modern facilities like broadband are less likely to be improved in these areas. Giving everyone access to broadband speeds of at least 10Mbps by 2020 as part of a Universal Service Obligation will be a legal right for broadband providers, according to the Government.

A complete switchover from the current copper-based networks to full fibre in the UK could take place by 2030, with new-build homes being prioritised alongside remote rural areas,  a report released by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said recently.

Cornwall leads the way in the report’s findings with 213 unsustainable villages, followed by Wiltshire with 168 from the total of 2,154.

“Beneficial development can only be approved if the settlement is considered sustainable in the first place,” says the CLA in its report Sustainable Villages – making rural communities fit for the future.

“Failure to overcome this hurdle essentially stagnates the settlement – freezing it in time – potentially for the life of the adopted development plan.”

Change needed as rural population becomes car reliant

Settlements with fewer services from the list used by local authorities are deemed unsustainable, with under 50% of the authorities considering petrol stations and garages. With public transport hitting a 28-year low last February, rural residents are relying on cars for commuting, the school run and reaching essential services.

The CLA report underlines the need for more housing nearer to services or with better digital connections to reduce carbon footprints and improve lives. It also flags up an innovative idea from the Arundell Arms Hotel in Lifton, Devon, which has Tesla supercharger points in its car park. But it also points out that none of the areas it assessed whether rural settlements had electric car charging points, something set to become more vital as the country strives to reduce carbon emissions.

The report concludes that, “Technology and digital connectivity have huge potential to achieve this and strengthen the rural economy. Ultimately, addressing the economic and social needs of the people who live in that area is the long-term solution to the rural housing crisis.”

With the Government setting out ambitious targets to build thousands of new homes each year, revising how villages and hamlets are assessed and upgrading technology appears to be essential.

Self-certified Sophisticated Investor

Please read

I declare that I am a self-certified sophisticated investor for the purposes of the restriction on promotion of non-mainstream pooled investments. I understand that this means:

I am a self-certified sophisticated investor because at least one of the following applies:

I accept that the investments to which the promotions will relate may expose me to a significant risk of losing all of the money or other property invested. I am aware that it is open to me seek advice from someone who specialises in advising on non-mainstream pooled investments.

High Net Worth Investor

Please read

I make this statement so that I can receive promotional communications which are exempt from the restriction on promotion of non-mainstream pooled investments. The exemption relates to certified high net worth investors and I declare that I qualify as such because at least one of the following applies to me:


Sign up for first access to new developments and exclusive property investment opportunities.

We send limited and targeted emails on new launches and exclusive deals which best fit your areas. We are trusted by over 30,000 active buyers as their source for new stock.

  • New property developments
  • Professional market reports
  • Property deal alerts
  • Development updates
Manchester property investment


Receive trending news straight to your inbox and stay up to date on all of the property market trends and advice.

Established since 2005 we are a leading voice of authority and commentary on the UK property market. Our news is trusted by Apple News & Google News.

  • UK housing market
  • Mortgage & money
  • Buy-to-let landlords
  • Guides & advice

Talk to us

Speak to our UK property experts today:


+44 (0) 333 123 0320

Open from 9am-6pm GMT


+852 6699 9008

Open from 9am-6pm HKT