Speakers announced for Rural Housing Scotland’s 2020 conference

A stellar line up has been announced for Rural Housing Scotland’s 20th anniversary conference in an event which will map the vital role housing will play in developing and sustaining thriving rural communities in Scotland over the next 20 years.

Key players from communities and industry across Scotland will come together in Birnam on February 28 to look at the strategies, opportunities and practicalities of tackling Scotland’s rural housing crisis.

The conference will hear what the recent £3.6 million Rural & Islands Housing Fund offer for affordable housing on Arran will mean to the local community from Barry Mochan of the Arran Development Trust, who will be discussing community-led housing alongside Angela Williams of Fort Augustus and Glenmoriston Community Company.

Attendees will also hear from Andrew Copus of James Hutton Institute on the demographic timebomb facing rural Scotland; from Isle of Ulva development manager, Wendy Reid, on their bid to repopulate their island community; and from Jon Lees of Ecology Building Society and Sam Foster Architects on the pressing issue of climate and housing.

Renowned journalist and broadcaster Lesley Riddoch will be on hand to present her vision for rural Scotland before she joins the conference’s closing panel to further shape the concept and discuss strategies to realise communities’ ambitions in this area.

A further session from David Stewart of Scottish Land Commission and Sarah Jane Laing from Scottish Land & Estates will look at land for housing, and the Scottish Government will run a workshop as part of its current Housing to 2040 consultation.

In addition to the main conference, Rural Housing Scotland is celebrating its 20th birthday with an extended pre-conference programme on February 27 which will include sessions on cohousing from Professor Gokay Devici of Robert Gordon University, and on collective custom build from John Kinsley of the Bath Street Collective, as part of a community learning exchange.

Derek Logie, chief executive of Rural Housing Scotland, said: “This is a fantastic line up which brings together some of the great strategists and ‘doers’ from across Scotland to show how we can tackle Scotland’s rural housing crisis, and what help and resources communities need to act.

“Housing is key to all aspects of creating thriving, sustainable rural communities and our annual conference provides a unique and valuable opportunity for communities and specialists to come together to learn from each other and forge partnerships which can enact real change across Scotland.”

The conference will run on February 27-28 and booking is now open on the Rural Housing Scotland website.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise is offering support for travel and accommodation costs to community organisations in the highlands and islands who would otherwise struggle to attend – support is limited and application forms are available on the Rural Housing Scotland website.

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