Our Rural Strategy
Updated: 26 May 2018
The Northern Ireland countryside provides environmental, social and economic benefits to all dwellers, both urban and rural. It is our greatest asset and should be enjoyed, promoted, protected and enhanced.
However, for the rural population (37% of NI total) who live in, work and maintain this asset, services are often less accessible, housing more unaffordable and basic needs hidden.
In November 2016 following eight weeks of public consultation, the Minister for Communities launched ‘Sustainable Rural Communities’ our Rural Strategy & Action Plan (2016-2020).
The Strategy embraces the wider reforms of social housing, local government and the emergence of community planning. Perhaps most importantly, it recognises that the introduction of the Rural Needs Act in 2016 provides the legislative basis for the delivery of our specific rural approach and an opportunity to reinforce our commitment to identify and address the needs of our rural communities.
We believe that our Rural Strategy should contribute to the following overarching vision for rural housing:
‘Vibrant, shared, healthy and sustainable rural communities where everyone has access to decent and affordable housing’.
Through the Action Plan we have set out to ensure that rural areas (those with a population below 5,000) receive an equitable share of all our services, based on analysis of need and monitoring of our activities.
The following five strategic objectives provide the direction for the strategy over the next 4 years:
- To plan for and enable the provision of affordable homes which meet rural housing needs;
- To improve the condition of rural housing stock and reduce fuel poverty;
- To provide housing support to vulnerable people in rural areas;
- To contribute to the development of safe, cohesive and engaged rural neighbourhoods; and
- To work in partnership with others to assist in rural development.
For more information please visit our Rural section