Countryside ‘to swell by half a million in ten years’ as more people opt to leave the city for a rural idyll
- The rural population is set to swell by 6 per cent by 2025, report predicts
- 2011 census revealed 9.3m people lived in rural areas – up 6.4% on 2001
- Around 40,000 people moved from urban to rural areas in 2012
The rural population is set to swell by 6 per cent by 2025 leading to a boom in the countryside economy, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs predicted.
The 2011 census revealed 9.3million people lived in rural areas – up 6.4 per cent on 2001. And the latest figures show around 40,000 people moved from urban to rural areas in 2012.
England’s countryside population will grow by more than half a million in a decade as more people opt to live outside cities, the Government has forecast
Defra said that if the trend continues, the number of people in work in the countryside will increase by 300,000 by 2025.
Its report reads: ‘It can be expected to drive increased spend and economic activity in rural areas, not least as those relocating … tend to be relatively wealthier. There is also evidence that people moving to rural areas are more likely to start a business.’
Defra believes the countryside’s contribution to the economy could increase by £35billion in the same ten years.
The report reads: ‘Continuation of such trends could be expected to lead to stronger productivity growth, job creation and higher output in rural areas. Over the next decade, productivity in rural areas could grow faster than in urban areas.’
The Government said it is supporting the growth by increasing broadband and mobile phone coverage as well as improving the road and rail networks. It has recently announced a £15 billion investment into road infrastructure.
The news comes as countryside communities have been hit by increasingly numbers of young people leaving for cities and large towns. But the figures may spark fears over further possible housing development on greenfield sites around rural villages, The Daily Telegraph reported last night.
There are around two million people currently working from home in English countryside areas.
Environment Secretary Liz Truss recently said rural areas would soon match the productivity of urban areas.
She told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme that improvements to infrastructure and growing numbers of entrepreneurs had ensured Britain outside towns and cities is a hive of innovation.
The minister said: ‘At the moment what we have is a gap between productivity in rural and urban areas.
‘We are seeing that gap closing and the reason the gap is closing is we are getting better connectivity, we are getting the sharing of technology.
‘What that means is we are seeing an increasing number of business start-ups in rural areas – people are now more likely to start a business in a rural area than an urban area.
‘There is a myth out there that innovation happens in cities, it happens in major towns. But in fact we are seeing lots of innovation and lots of exports, we are seeing lots of technology start-ups in rural areas.’
Ms Truss highlighted a Norfolk firm selling airport security equipment to Dubai and China, while exports of traditional goods like Wensleydale cheese are also expanding.
She also credited Government policies on freezing fuel prices and road spending with having a positive impact on rural areas.
The Environment Secretary said wages would rise in future in rural economies, but pressed on slow broadband rollout, she said: ‘We are working on that … across the country. It will be 95 per cent by 2017.’