Rural livelihoods

Family walking in a village through affordable housing
Abigail Oliver | CPRE

We want to live in a thriving countryside, where rural communities have local jobs, services, shops, pubs and homes.

We campaign for this by:

  • Listening to our community needs.
  • Examining and commenting on planning applications.
  • Making sure the community’s voice is heard at national, regional and local consultations.
  • Encouraging and supporting initiatives which help the local economy.

Recent months have amplified the continuous change in working practice in Herefordshire. Historically, agriculture was at the centre of most communities and was one of the biggest employers. Today agriculture represents just 8% of the employment total. Other sectors are growing and are represented by health 15%, manufacturing 14%, retail 9%, tourism 8% and education 7%, all taking ever increasing roles.

The coronavirus epidemic has in some senses opened new horizons for home working. Video conferencing is now common practice in many people’s business and social life.

This shift has put substantial pressure on the need for fast broadband connectivity which still remains an issue in many parts of our county. Home working is a considerable aid in the climate change war. By cutting down travel we immediately help reduce CO2 emissions. Part of any revision in planning should encourage hubs for local working and ensure housing, workplace, schools and shops are all located within walking or cycling distance.

Our county has a disproportionate aging population as young people move to urban settings for work and accommodation. All levels of local government need to address how we retain younger people in communities by creating local jobs and smaller starter homes at affordable prices. Climate change and technology solutions may help chart how more local working and living can become possible for our rural communities.