Revival of villages revealed by estate agent in new report

PUBLISHED: 09:41 23 May 2016 | UPDATED: 09:41 23 May 2016

Village life

Village life

Sharon Struckman

More of us want to move out of towns and cities and into rural locations, according to a new report by a leading estate agent.

A village dayA village day

The world might seem focused on urbanisation, but over the past three years of its Housing Futures research, Strutt & Parker has seen the emergence of a new creeping trend in housing – the desire to move back to amenity-rich, rural locations.

Its latest survey identifies four factors that are shaping this village revival:

• 21 per cent of survey respondents who are moving home said that they wanted to live in a village, making it easily the most popular type of location, compared to 14 per cent for a market town and only 12 per cent for either a big city or a suburb;

• Broadband and mobile connections are essential to rural life. Access to broadband was a key factor for 49 per cent of those intending to move to a village, while 38 per cent highlighted mobile connectivity;

• We saw a significant increase in respondents looking for rental accommodation. 10 per cent of those wanting to move to a village would live in a professionally managed private rental unit, up from 1 per cent in 2013;

• Ease of access is an important issue for respondents intending to move to a village, with 60 per cent wanting to be able to walk to shops, 48 per cent to local transport and 45 per cent to medical facilities.

Stephanie McMahon, head of research at Strutt & Parker, said: “The UK might seem to be focused on urbanisation but we believe a new, overlooked trend is set to shape Britain’s housing market over the coming decades – the desire to move back to rural.

“Existing research would suggest cities have the upper hand over villages - by the mid-century there will be approximately 65 million people living in Britain’s cities, compared to just 8 million in rural areas. However, as the urban trend has gathered pace in the UK, a number of negative traits have begun to appear such as a rise in inadequate housing provision, urban sprawl and increased pollution.”

“In our latest research, 21 per cent of respondents who are moving home said they wanted to live in a village. The shift away from cities is being driven by people looking for neighbourhood safety (86 per cent), and space between neighbours (58 per cent), as well as for a strong community feel (48 per cent).”

According to DEFRA, in 2013/14, the UK saw net internal migration of 60,000 people to predominantly rural areas in England. It is a trend that has been positive every year since 2001. But this reverse migration is not to a traditional rural environment. The influence that technology is having on shopping, communications and working habits is helping to transform villages and the type of people who want to live in them.

Guy Robinson, head of estate agency at Strutt & Parker, said: “The rural economy accounts for £210 billion of economic output and a key element of driving future growth, jobs and prosperity is access to technology and communications infrastructure. Over 25 per cent of all registered businesses are in rural areas, according to DEFRA, and they are thriving. Growth sectors include hi-tech manufacturing, food processing, the service sector, retail and power supply (in the form of renewables).”

Sally Noakes, of Strutt & Parker in Harpenden said: “Some of the most highly sought-after locations in our patch are in villages. We have noticed more homebuyers considering properties in more rural locations. The expansion of broadband and mobile communications means that more people don’t work a five-day working week in the office anymore. It seems that the same factors that once drove urbanisation – improving economic and social conditions – are now inspiring the village revival.”

To download the report, ‘Housing Futures: The Village Revival’, click here.

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