Rural Housing Design Mission: Second Home Challenge

Over the past 8 weeks, we’ve engaged with key stakeholders and surveyed residents living in rural Northumberland facing first hand rural housing problems and challenges.

Unsurprisingly, we have identified many challenges around a rapidly ageing population, connectivity, and the need for low carbon solutions.

But for now, we’d like to focus on exploring how second homes in rural communities might become fundamental assets to the community as well as to the owner. We want to support rural Northumberland in achieving more balanced sustainable rural communities – meaning residents, visitors and tourists having easily accessible and integrated access to appropriate homes, services and facilities as well as an economically diverse population incorporating business and leisure

At the rural housing innovation workshop on 13th August, we asked companies, innovators and entrepreneurs to come together with key stakeholders and local rural residents to unpick the challenges caused by too many second homes in rural communities and develop new concepts and ideas to address the challenges.

Second homes problems to address:

Increased ownership of second homes is affecting the sustainability of rural Northumberland communities for example by:

1. Inflating prices meaning younger local people are priced out of area and village populations are decreasing and ageing communities becoming isolated

2. Reduced occupancy means local services are less viable e.g. schools, shops, transport

3. Under population of certain areas by as much as 70%

4. Seasonal use of holiday homes reduces footfall in winter.

You can see the slide deck that was used to set up the session here.

The following opportunities were discussed and need innovative solutions:

1. To provide semi and permanent rental for local people of vacant 2nd homes via a community led approach to holiday lets and homes e.g. community own and any income is retained within the local economy.
(N.B. – There are planning constraints in certain scenarios to be aware of)

2. To enable more recent second homes owners who are not integrated into the local rural community to participate and engage more despite living somewhere else.

3. To develop a service that supports second homeowners to invest in low carbon energy solutions to share that energy with rural communities when the homes are unoccupied.

4. To establish a comprehensive Northumberland rural jobs platform that promotes hard to fill vacancies by

If you’ve got ideas to the challenges facing rural housing, we’re offering businesses support and funding to help take their ideas to market. If you’re interested in getting involved then submit an expression of interest below. You can find supporting documents herePlease submit expressions of interest to