2022 Conference

Our annual rural housing conference was held on 25th February 2022. Due to the ongoing circumstances surrounding Covid-19, this year we ran the conference online. Whilst we had hoped we would be able to hold an in-person event, the online model was accessible and attended by people from across the UK, allowing an opportunitiy for wider collaboration and networking for the future. The event was also free to attend.


Rural living presents an opportunity for a sustainable lifestyle in the face of climate change and with this conference, we wanted to bring the discussion about rural sustainability back to the communities at the heart of the debate. 

During the conference, we learned about some of the innovative housing and regeneration projects taking place across rural Scotland, hearing from the communities themselves about how their projects are progressing and their visions for the future. As well as hearing about the lived experience of these rural communities, we discussed the policy initiatives that are shaping rural futures through a series of webinars and workshops.

We hope this conference helped to highlight the expansive opportunities presented by rural areas for the future, as well as where change is needed to allow this potential to be reached.

The conference included contributions from Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government, Shona Robison MSP, as well as from the Convenor of the Scottish Parliament Local Government, Housing and Planning Committee, Green MSP, Ariane Burgess and a number of other fantastic speakers who shared their experience and expertise on rural issues. We have shared some of the videos and presentations from the day below.

This event was organised by Rural Housing Scotland with sponsorship from Highlands Rewilding and Ecology Building Society and support from UN Habitat.

Smart Clachan

Rural Housing Scotland is working with Uist and Comrie Croft to develop Smart Clachan to support repopulation. Smart Clachan create cooperative affordable homes alongside a range of shared services. Speakers: Andrew Donaldson, Donna Young (RHS Project Officer), Derek Logie (RHS Chief Executive)

Tomduie Clachan presentation

Rural Regeneration

The Isle of Ulva and Tarbrax are starkly contrasting rural communities; one a small island in the Inner Hebrides and the other, a former mining community in South Lanarkshire. However, both have community-led initiatives to develop housing to enable the repopulation and regeneration of their communities. Speakers: Pat Mavor (WAT IF Development Manager), Wendy Reid (Isle of Ulva Development Manager)

Isle of Ulva

Building Rural Futures

Mull and Iona Community Trust have just finished their second housing project. What did they do differently this time? Ettrick and Yarrow Development Trust are embarking on their first. How are they finding finance for their projects? Speakers: Helen Macdonald (MICT), Vicky Davidson (Ettrick and Yarrow Development Trust), Jon Lee (Ecology Building Society).

Mull and Iona Community Trust presentation
Ettrick and Yarrow presentation
Ecology Building Society presentation

Putting people and communities at the heart of rewilding

Highlands Rewilding defines rewilding as a progressive approach to nature conservation that revitalises forest, peatlands and pastures, providing space for wildlife, flora and fauna to flourish and communities to thrive. Speakers: Jeremy Legget (Highlands Rewilding), Neil Sutherland (Makar Homes), Jonathan Christie (The Cabrach Trust)

NPF4 – The future of rural planning policy

The aim of the National Planning Framework 4 is to increase the population of rural areas of Scotland, yet the consultation draft continues to restrict the rural housing development. Where is the vision for sustainable rural development, to enable people to remain/return and to counter depopulation? Speakers: Robbie Calvert (RTPI), Debbie Mackay (Savills)

Robbie Calvert presentation

Second Homes

What can be done to increase the inexorable increase in second homes and holiday lets in rural Scotland. Is there good practice from the UK and wider world to help control the number of holiday homes? Can planning offer a solution? Speakers: Angus Dodds (Contour Town Planning), Dr. Chris Dalglish (INHERIT)

Second homes presentation

The Rural Housing Conference is brought to you by Rural Housing Scotland 
with support from UN-Habitat and sponsorship from Ecology Building Society and Highlands Rewilding.