Protection of the Rural Character


The rural communities have a unique character which makes them very special. They have a very strong sense for the community and tend to have much closer relationships than the urban population. Their distinct character increases the country’s diversity and enriches the culture. Protection of the rural character is therefore just as important as protection of the rural areas themselves.

The rural character has been taken for self-granted too long which has resulted in dramatic changes within the rural communities and their character. One of the greatest challenges for conservation of the rural areas and their character is the housing problem which has become particularly obvious in the recent years. In 2010, more than 90 percent of the UK’s population lived in the urban areas and the percentage of the urban population is estimated to continue to increase over the following years. Many choose to extend properties or add extensions in a conservation area. However, this is not as much related to flight from the rural areas as it is to housing difficulties in the countryside.

With an aim to preserve the rural areas, highly restrictive building regulations were adopted. They have achieved their main goal – prevention of urban and suburban sprawl into the rural areas but they have also resulted in the rise of prices of homes in the rural areas. As a result, homes in the countryside became unaffordable for the majority of population which in turn poses a risk of permanent change of the rural character. To protect the traditional rural character, the building authorities will need to reconsider the restrictions concerning new homes in the rural areas because the housing will not become more affordable as long as the offer of new homes does not increase.

Economic development of the rural areas is another factor that can both help preserve and change the rural character. Whereas the traditional economic activities enhance the rural character, factories and highly competitive economic environment dramatically changes the character of the rural communities. To conserve the rural areas and their distinct character, the governmental and non-governmental programmes should therefore stimulate the traditional rural economy and businesses, in the first place agriculture.


Although the rural areas are virtually unimaginable without the agricultural sector, the latter raises more issues than it resolves. Intensive agriculture that became the predominant agricultural method in the 20th century has seriously altered the rural areas and made farmers depended on chemicals which are seriously harming the environment as well as human health. Many farmers gave up the conventional agricultural methods for the organic ones, however, many more are hesitating as organic food production requires radical change agricultural methods. Since conventional agriculture is unsustainable in the long term, farmers should be provided an assistance in education, training and funds to adopt sustainable agriculture which is the only way to conserve both the rural areas and rural character.

In the end, it is crucial to find solutions for each rural community individually according to its specific needs and profile.