‘Housing Futures – The Village Revival’, focuses on the renewal of villages throughout the UK, a perhaps counter intuitive trend based on survey findings that point to people seeking amenity-rich environments within a village setting.
The themes developed in Strutt & Parker’s original Housing Futures report released in 2014 – discussed emerging tribes (demographic groups) and housing solutions to suit these new tribes – which remain at the heart of this year’s research whilst also highlighting a new trend of people seeking to live in a village or amenity-rich rural locations.
The survey identified four factors that are shaping this village revival:
- Broadband and mobile connections are essential to rural life. Access to broadband was a key factor for 49% of those intending to move to a village, while 38% highlighted mobile connectivity.
- We saw a significant increase in respondents looking for rental accommodation. 10% of those wanting to move to a village would live in a professionally managed private rental unit, up from 1% in 2013.
- Ease of access is an important issue for respondents intending to move to a village, with 60% wanting to be able to walk to shops, 48% to local transport and 45% to medical facilities.
Additionally, we have identified five core tribes who will be important to this revival and highlighted the components that will create the modern village. They are:
- The Downtons are an influential family with substantial income living in the grandest village house. While the most prestigious house in the village would once have been owned by the local squire, many of these properties have now been acquired by buyers using property equity to purchase a rural idyll.
- Elderflowers are healthy and active retirees who have assets, including their own home and pension income. Born after the Second World War, the Elderflowers have benefitted from sustained economic growth and are now the largest demographic in the UK. Elderflowers have either lived in the village all their lives or are empty nesters looking to move into a village house that suits their changing needs.
- Rusticarians are entrepreneurs and creatives who can bring dynamism to the village economy. These diverse countryside dwellers embrace new approaches to work and lifestyle. For example, rural areas have the highest rate of homeworkers – 33% compared to 12% in urban areas. Technology is key to this group, with 49% of those intending to move to a village citing broadband as the key motivation for moving, up from 41% in 2014.
- Rubies – or Rural Newbies – are families who are keen to move to a village location to raise their children. This group of predominantly younger families supports the local school, uses community facilities for classes and leisure facilities, and sustains local shops.
- The Onesies are single-person households which are growing across all age groups in the UK at a rate ten times faster than the general population. About 3.8 million older people are sole occupiers and 70% of these are women.
But what does this mean for the UK’s village of the future? It is clear that both residential and commercial property in rural locations will have to adapt in the coming decade to the changing needs of both renters and property owners if the UK’s villages are to thrive and remain sustainable. Successful modern villages combine traditional appeal with an ability to adapt to new requirements. The impact of broadband and mobile communications, along with easily accessible public transport, is fundamental to a village’s economic viability, allowing more people to work away from urban centres.
It’s crucial that the village of the future embraces villagers with flexible working lives and creative non-office based jobs. We suggest the introduction of communal spaces into villages which support start-ups and encourage small businesses. For example the Flexispace – offering rentable workspace in a retail setting – and the Makerspace – a community building in the heart of the village for makers, designers to get together and collaborate and for hosting village events.
The 21st century village is not the quaint place of yesterday. It is absolutely crucial that our villages adapt to a future that includes flexible live/work space and upgraded infrastructure. Housing provision in rural locations must also diversify to include adequate levels of rental properties, modern retirement homes and healthy living spaces.
Read the full report here