Villagers' isolation increases as well-off families move in: Oliver Gillie looks at a call for planning systems to allow Britain's smaller communities to grow

AS SHOPS and buses disappear from villages, many more people find themselves stranded and able to get essential services only with great difficulty. This trend is bringing about a change in the population of country areas, the Rural Development Commission says in a report published yesterday.

The number of well-off families living in the country and running two or more cars is increasing. But many young people and old people have no means of transport, and parents with small children are without transport during the day while their partner is at work.

Only one-quarter of parishes still has a daily bus service, and at the same time the decline in local shops and other services makes it extremely difficult for people in small villages to live on low incomes. There is no shop or post office in 40 per cent of parishes and 50 per cent of parishes now have no school, according to the report, Rural Services: challenges and opportunities.

Margaret Clark, director of rural services at the RDC, said: 'Although car ownership per household is higher in the countryside, the breadwinner often takes the car to work leaving the rest of the family without transport. Public policies need to recognise the problem so that ways can be found of increasing services in the country. The planning system, for example, needs to allow for villages to grow.'

Frequently there is a tension between incomers who are in search of a rural idyll and people who have always lived in the country, who see it as the place which provides their living. The incomers often want to stop the building of more houses and block business developments that change the countryside.

'Incomers can breathe new life into an area. They are often the entrepreneurs,' said Ms Clark. 'But in other areas the incomers are retired people or commuters who want the countryside to remain unchanged. However it is essential for the countryside to develop and change with the times.'

The RDC is a government agency charged with providing advice to central government on rural problems and in finding solutions. It advises on setting up community transport schemes, assists shopkeepers and provides finance for rebuilding or repair of village halls.

The commission is now calling for action to maintain the independence of village life. Special incentives are needed to encourage providers to deliver their services in the country, it says. GPs, for example, are given special rural practice payments, and small pharmacies, often run as part of GP surgeries, are subsidised. More subsidies of this type are needed.

Village post offices should be given more flexible contracts so they can diversify and sell theatre or lottery tickets, or act as centres for ordering library books.

'When a post office or shop provides more services, people who come in for one thing will buy something else. Communities prosper when there are more services available,' Ms Clark said.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Photographer / Floorplanner / Domestic Energy Assessor

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Photographer/ Floor planner /...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence