Lack of rural housing is a barrier to progressive farming
Issues with rural housing are obstructing farming retirement and new entrants, limiting the progression of UK agriculture, says the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers (CAAV). It needs to be freed up to help handle the loss of Basic Payment.
A new report on Retirement Housing for farmers in the United Kingdom, has highlighted specific issues in rural housing, flagging up the need to make changes in order to allow the younger generation to drive the industry forward. Housing is so often found to be the obstacle to farming retirement and opportunities for entry.
The report, written by Jeremy Moody, secretary and adviser to the CAAV, for a consortium of the CAAV, University College of Estate Management (UCEM), The Prince’s Countryside Fund, The Royal Agricultural University and Northumbrian Water Group, highlights how lack of affordable housing can prevent farmers from retiring.
Farming is a multi-generational venture, explains Mr Moody. “Around 84% are second generation, but measures to enable the retirement of the older generation and the opening of doors for the younger generation are severely restricted. Yet we shall need the greatest flexibility in this to manage post-Brexit change in the sector and give opportunities to the next generation.
“Sufficient housing is needed by everyone in the sector, but it’s frequently scarce and expensive in rural areas,” he explains. “Housing is one key obstacle to farmers when scaling down or retiring - whether through lack of availability or limitations in affording it.”
After considering a wide range of issues in understanding and tackling the practical problems around farming retirement and housing, the next steps are about turning this work into effective action across the UK. “We need to identify, share and promote good practice to encourage progressively better performance,” says Mr Moody.
Some solutions discussed in the report include relaxing local planning for retiring and for new farmers, such as rural exception sites, farm building conversion, tax allowances and the development of affordable housing. We also need to promote the opportunities now in policies to provide housing for the next farming generation, so that the retiring farmer can stay in the house he has always lived in, he adds.
“Taking this work forward will be about encouraging imaginative practice, proactive and positive behaviour and innovative solutions among all, from local planning authorities to families considering their future or discussions within landlord/tenant relationships,” says Mr Moody. “This needs to be in place as farmers react to the loss of Basic Payment, so we can manage change practically and give the best start to the proficient farmers of the future.”
Click here for the full report.