May 29, 2019
New approach needed
How can housing need be assessed in a remote rural location? The official line is that an absence of people reflects an absence of housing demand. The idea that the absence of housing might just be the principle reason for the absence of people doesn’t come into it. There’s a growing conviction that if houses were just built in more remote locations, people would be queuing up to move in. A coalition of community sector interests have come together to press for change in the official policy that results in so many houses being built in all the wrong places.
A new Rural Repopulation and Renewal Working Group comprised of Community Land Scotland, Development Trusts Association Scotland, The Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust and Highlands and Islands Enterprise has been formed to explore ways to encourage more people to live and work in rural parts of Scotland. It follows recent Scottish Government-commissioned research by The James Hutton Institute which forecast that Scotland’s most Sparsely Populated Areas risk losing a quarter of their population by 2046 if current demographic trends continue.
The new Group was formed following a seminar on rural repopulation and renewal organised by Community Land Scotland last November and supported by the Carnegie UK Trust and Highlands and Islands Enterprise. The Group aims to combine research and practical support to place communities at the heart of strategies to renew Sparsely Populated Areas which make up almost half of Scotland’s land area but contain less than 3% of its population. Speaking after the Group’s first meeting in Inverness Community Land Scotland’s Policy Director, Dr Calum MacLeod said:
“Our intention is to contribute to a thriving rural Scotland by helping communities to increase their populations in demographically sustainable ways. We already know that lots of people want to move to rural communities but that there are barriers around affordable housing, employment opportunities and access to services that prevent them from doing so. We’ll be working with a wide range of stakeholders to influence policy and ensure that the necessary infrastructure, services and other support mechanisms are available to enable communities to take a leading role in shaping their own futures. Our initial focus is on working with existing communities. We’ll also investigate how new settlements can contribute to the repopulation and renewal of rural Scotland as our work programme evolves”.
Dr Calum MacLeod, Policy Director, Community Land Scotland. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Mobile: 07974 829149
Ronnie MacRae, Chief Executive Officer, The Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust. Email: email@example.com Mobile: 07810 391059
Dr Zoe Laird, Regional Head of Communities Infrastructure, Highlands and Islands Enterprise. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 01463 245245
The James Hutton Institute: Demographic Change in the Sparsely Populated Areas of Scotland (1991-2046)