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Rural housing campaign highlights impact of Airbnb

The Rural Homes, Rural Lives campaign launches in Birnam
The Rural Homes, Rural Lives campaign launches in Birnam

Travel giant Airbnb is adding to an affordable housing crisis in rural Scotland, a new study has claimed.

The worrying shortage of countryside properties has been highlighted by campaign group Scottish Rural Action at its conference in Perthshire.

Its Rural Homes, Rural Lives strategy calls on the Scottish Government, councils, housing associations and landlords to work together to ensure better housing provision.

In particular, the campaign highlights the negative impact of rural housing shortages on businesses trying to invest, grow and recruit staff.

A survey carried out by the team in January suggested the issue was being made much worse by the impact of tourism booking platforms, such as Airbnb.

Property owners are said to be leaving homes in the Scottish countryside available for the website, and other travel outlets, rather than putting them on the market.

Respondents suggested it should be made easier for community organisations and individuals to build new homes and said the land reform act should be used make land available for housing.

The issue was highlighted by Jill Davies at the conference in Birnam Arts Centre.

Ms Davies, representing Outside the Box Development Scotland, said: “There are no affordable homes for nurses or medical staff.

“When they closed the community hospital in Aberfeldy over a year later they converted the care home, however when they advertised for staff there weren’t any staff in the area or people who could relocate to the area to run the centre.

“And this is all because there is no available houses.”

Fiona Thompson of Scottish Rural Action said: “Data already tells us that there is a shortage of affordable, accessible and appropriate housing in rural Scotland, but our survey set out to gather first hand experiences from the people who are affected and the personal stories of the individuals behind that data.

“We had almost 200 people respond and their testimony gives a powerful insight into the urgent need for housing in rural Scotland, particularly in small communities.

“The more we can understand the challenges facing rural economies and rural communities, the better placed we are to address those challenges and unlock rural potential.

“We look forward to sharing our findings and our suggested solutions with those involved in rural housing provision.”

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