An update from CPRE, the countryside charity’s Rural Economy and Communities team:

At CPRE’s Rural Economy and Communities team we want to see thriving and sustainable rural communities across the country. That means towns and villages properly connected by public transport, with truly affordable homes for local people, alongside a resilient and diverse agricultural sector, and landscapes that are being both protected and enhanced.

Alongside NEF and Shared Assets, CPRE published a report into reviving county farms in December 2019. County farms, owned and let by local councils, are essential for providing a way into farming for young people, and have the potential to evolve in exciting and innovative ways. At CPRE we really value county farms as community assets and want them to have a positive future delivering benefits for their local community.  However, our research shows that the extent of county farms in England has plummeted, down by half since 1970, with over 210,000 acres lost.

CPRE is calling for councils to use promised new funding from the Government to commit to keeping, investing in and enhancing these valuable local resources to offer new ways for young people to enter farming and for the long-term benefit of their local area.

We believe that councils can also show leadership by making the most of the potential of county farms to help mitigate the impact of climate change. You can read the full report here.

In February we held a roundtable event in Westminster to launch our latest transport campaign ‘Transport Deserts’. A ‘transport desert’ occurs when a community lacks the public transport options for residents to be able to conveniently travel on a day-to-day basis without driving. Research conducted for CPRE by the Campaign for Better Transport found that in a majority of cases, residents living in small rural towns are at risk of being cut off from basic services due to a severe lack of public transport.

We know that a thriving countryside depends on well-connected small towns and villages with convenient, reliable, and affordable public transport. But outside of England’s major cities, communities are being left high and dry in ever-widening?transport deserts with completely inadequate connections. This is having a dramatic effect on rural communities – young people are compelled to move away, older people are left isolated and lonely, while less well-off families can be trapped in debt and poverty.

CPRE is calling on the government to act now and establish a dedicated rural transport fund. You can read our summary of the transport deserts research here.

Promoting genuinely affordable rural housing is an issue that is very close to our heart and we are particularly interested in the impact of the Right to Buy on the availability of affordable housing in rural communities. If you are aware of a village or parish where access to affordable housing has been impacted by the Right to Buy we would love to hear from you. You can get in touch by emailing


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