Rural England Stakeholder – Margaret Clark CBE

Margaret ClarkCareer reference:  At the Countryside Agency, led the team to establish and launch the CRC.  Past chair of the OECD territorial policy rural working group and, until September 2015, Hastoe Housing Group.  Currently chair of the Plunkett Foundation and member of CPRE national board.

Personal perspective:  In my view, rural areas, and the communities within them, are facing enormous challenges and pressures across a wide range of fronts.  Services are disappearing, the ability to access affordable housing is reducing, investment in infrastructure is lower than ever and, for many, especially those on low incomes, the idea of living and working in the countryside is becoming simply a pipe dream.  After a career spent in rural research, policy development and practice, I believe that, without action, rural areas will undergo a fundamental change which will be difficult to reverse and we will lose much of what we value about the countryside.  In particular, rural areas, as working environments, and rural communities, made up of people from a range of backgrounds, ages and circumstances, will disappear.  This means that the need to gather evidence on what is happening, to research the impacts, to help develop policy responses and to share knowledge and information becomes even more important.  I hope Rural England will play a key role in this.