The village revival

Posted 28 April 2016 by Helen Christie

New research from Strutt & Parker shows that people are increasingly looking to move back to rural, village locations...

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:

1. 21% 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% for a market town and only 12% for either a big city or a suburb.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

Stephanie McMahon, head of research at Strutt & Parker, says: “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 65m people living in Britain’s cities, compared to just 8m 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% 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%), and space between neighbours (58%), as well as for a strong community feel (48%).”

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.

James Farrell, head of consultancy at Strutt & Parker, says: “Technology is helping to change the rural economy, which plays a key role in creating jobs and prosperity. England’s rural economy now accounts for £210 billion of economic output and hosts over 25% of all registered businesses, according to DEFRA. New companies are thriving in rural locations, including hi-tech manufacturing, food processing, the service sector, retail and power supply (in the form of renewables).”

Stephanie McMahon continues: “The expansion of broadband and mobile communications has seen a greater uptake of working from home in rural locations compared to urban areas. It seems that the same factors that once drove urbanisation – improving economic and social conditions – are now inspiring the village revival.”

WhatHouse? has had a look for some of the best new builds available now in villages around the country...

Foundry Field in Burnham Market, Norfolk (Hill)

Foundry Field is a new development of 27 two-, three- and four-bedroom homes in the village of Burnham Market, near to the beautiful Norfolk coast. Foundry Field is just a short walk away from the village centre.

Prices from £525,000

Find out more about Foundry Field (Hill)


Riverside Park in Fremington, North Devon (Barratt Homes)

A lovely development of two-, three- and four-bedroom homes, Riverside Park is situated in Fremington, a large quayside village.

Prices from £239,995

Find out more about Riverside Park (Barratt Homes)


Poppy Fields in Charing, Ashford (David Wilson Homes)

In the quintessential village of Charing near Ashford, David Wilson Homes offers a selection of three-, four- and five-bedroom homes. With traditional facades and contemporary interiors, Poppy Fields is close to local amenities, including a post office, butchers, restaurants and coffee shops.

Prices from £599,995

Find out more about Poppy Fields (David Wilson Homes)

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