Conference 2023


About the Conference

Our 22nd annual rural housing conference will take place at Birnam Arts Centre on the 24th February 2023. This will be our first in-person conference since the Covid-19 pandemic hit in 2020 and we are delighted to be back! We are pleased to also be back at Dunkeld House Hotel for the Conference Dinner where we have a great dinner, bed and breakfast package for delegates wishing to stay on the evening of the 23rd February.

Members save £40 on conference tickets. You can become a member from £10 here.

We are delighted that Ecology Building Society and Highlands Rewilding will once again be our lead sponsors.

Programme Overview

This year, we’re looking at how we can secure the sustainability and health of our rural communities.

Daytime TV is filled with the promise of A Simple Life, an Escape to the Country or a New Life in the Wild, a popular internet meme is #cottagecore – an idealisation of a pastoral life and escape from the dangers of the modern world. These trends have been exacerbated by the COVID 19 pandemic and the post pandemic changes in working practice which allow more people to work remotely.

But, what do we need to do to ensure that rural communities benefit from the growth in remote working, how can we enable young people to remain and return to rural communities, and prevent depopulation and enable repopulation, without precipitating the gentrification and geriatrification of our rural communities?

Our programme will examine a range of ideas which seek to address these issues including; Rural Housing Scotland initiatives Smart Clachan and Radical Rural Housing; learning from the approach of our neighbours in Ireland to Rural Development; securing a Just Transition for rural homes; how rural communities can benefit from the energy generated in their communities and how rewilding and repeopling can go hand in hand.

The full programme is due to be released soon but below you can read about some of the fantastic speakers that will be joining us.

Speakers & Sessions

The full programme will be announced over the coming weeks but below are just some of the fantastic people who will be speaking throughout the day.

             

SUSTAINABLE RURAL COMMUNITIES WELCOME


Dr Annie McKee |
Convenor, Rural Housing Scotland

Jon Lee | Business Development Manager, Ecology Building Society – Event Sponsor

Shona Robison MSP | Cabinet Secretary for  Social Justice, Housing & Local Government

OUR RURAL FUTURE – IRELAND & SCOTLAND

The Irish Government’s ambitious five year policy for Rural Ireland includes a €1 billion Rural Regeneration and Development Fund to support landmark regeneration projects across the country that will breathe new life into rural towns and villages. These include a strong focus on developing remote working facilities such as digital and enterprise communities, as well as cultural and community spaces.

Jake Ryan | Head of the Irish Regional Development and Innovation Unit
Jake contributes to the Department’s goal of advancing the economic and social development of rural areas, including our offshore islands, through the use of digital technologies. In addition, Jake works closely with the Western Development Commission (WDC) to promote the interests of the Atlantic Economic Corridor region

Stephen Carolan | Connected Hubs Program Manager, Western Development Commission
Stephen has spearheaded the establishment of the ambitious initiative Connected Hubs platform: www.connectedhub.ie seeking to create a network of over 400 co-working and enterprise hubs across Ireland. The project has grown from a pilot based in the west of Ireland to a nationwide initiative.  Stephen’s is leading a team responsible for the further development of this exciting project in the years ahead.

Morven Fancey | Head of Universities, Skills & Population, HIE

(EM)POWERING RURAL COMMUNITIES

Power Circle are a social enterprise dedicated to supporting social housing providers, private house owners, communities, and the private sector access affordable, low carbon energy by helping them establish smart, local energy systems. In this session, we will hear about their work with Lochalsh & Skye Housing Association and their future plans.

Neil Clapperton | CEO Lochalsh and Skye Housing Association)
Neil has worked for housing associations and local authorities for 30 years, from tenemental improvement and regeneration in Edinburgh, to roles in Dunbritton Housing Association, before more strategic and senior management positions in the NE of Scotland. In 1999 he set up Angus Community Care Charitable Trust in collaboration with social work and health, before adding a wider portfolio of strategic and policy roles within Angus Council. He was a founder member of Our Power, a social landlord utility, and has been actively involved in initiatives to tackle fuel poverty, address climate change and promote the circular economy. He joined Lochalsh & Skye Housing Association in August 2021 and is an RHS board member.

Kenneth Eason | Project Development Officer, Power Circle)
Kenneth’s professional focus is sustainability in the built environment, with expertise principally in domestic and light commercial energy retrofit, traditional building retrofit, microgeneration, renewable heating, energy storage, and smart energy technologies. He has previous experience in roles spanning specialist advice, community engagement, consultancy, and project management across public, private, and third sector organisations.

SMART CLACHAN

In this session, Donna and Andrew will give an update on RHS pilot Smart Clachan projects in South Uist and Comrie. Learn more about this new initiative and whether it could help alleviate housing issues in your community.

Donna Young | Uist Smart Clachan Development Officer, Rural Housing Scotland
Donna spent several years working in Corporate services and Data System Management in the Middle East, before returning to Uist in November 2020. She was an Energy Project Officer with Tighean Innse Gall, for whom she successfully helped launch an EU funded project to help tackle fuel poverty across the Outer Hebrides, before she joined RHS in 2021.

Andrew Donaldson | Comrie Croft Owner, Tomduie Clachan
Andrew is a rural social entrepreneur from Comrie in Perthshire. With a passion for the potential of rural people and places, Andrew has lead a model regenerative enterprise known as Comrie Croft. The Croft aims to maximise complementary and balanced positive impacts within its environment and community. Comrie Croft is currently looking to develop an RHS Smart Clachan – read more here.

Richard Graves | Arcitecht, G&GA

SUSTAINABLE RURAL HOUSING

Hear from Highlands Rewilding (event sponsor) and Trail Architects about their sustainable rural housing development at Beldorney. Repurposing existing buildings and creating new spaces which deliver for the community and provide opportunities for regenerative enterprise.

Kirsty MacKay | Highlands Rewilding

Lauren McIntyre | Trail Architects

HOUSING AND THE RURAL ECONOMY

In many rural areas, lack of affordable housing is having a detrimental on the economy. In order to thrive, we must enable businesses to survive, grow and be resilient. To achieve this. we must find a real solution to the lack of housing available to those looking for employment here and for those already working here, for businesses of all sizes, across sectors.

Clare Winskill | Skye Connect

Tavish Scott | Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation

FINANCING COMMUNITY-LED HOUSING

Ecology Building Society is dedicated to improving the environment by supporting and promoting ecological building practices and sustainable communities. In this session, you will be able to hear about how Ecology Building Society can help financially support your housing project.

Jon Lee | Ecology Building Society

 Jon joined Ecology Building Society as Business Development Manager in 2006, coming from a background in commercial mortgages and sustainable business finance. His primary focus is on expanding the Society’s profile in commercial lending and community-led housing as well as supporting the Society’s work in the residential sector. Jon also works with commercial partners to develop affinity schemes linked to the Society’s residential mortgage products, including their award winning C Change discounts.

RURAL JUST TRANSITION

Scotland’s rural communities are being hit hard by the energy cost crisis. Rural Housing Scotland is supporting the Existing Homes Alliance in a call for the the Scottish Government to provide a Rural Homes Package to ensure fairness and equality for remote and rural Scotland.

Gillian Campbell | Existing Homes Alliance

The Existing Homes Alliance is a coalition of housing, environmental, fuel poverty, consumer and industry organisations calling for action to transform Scotland’s existing housing stock.

Gillian supports the Alliance, working across sectors and with government to shape the policy, regulatory and funding framework so that it delivers the scale of retrofit needed to ensure Scotland meets climate change and fuel poverty targets. Gillian is also an independent housing consultant who has worked with local and national government, registered social landlords and national membership organisations for nearly 25 years.

Gillian Campbell | Existing Homes Alliance

The Existing Homes Alliance is a coalition of housing, environmental, fuel poverty, consumer and industry organisations calling for action to transform Scotland’s existing housing stock.

Gillian supports the Alliance, working across sectors and with government to shape the policy, regulatory and funding framework so that it delivers the scale of retrofit needed to ensure Scotland meets climate change and fuel poverty targets. Gillian is also an independent housing consultant who has worked with local and national government, registered social landlords and national membership organisations for nearly 25 years.

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