Regeneration Rent

Ben Taylor with Line Undrawn, Dr Matthew Creasey and Charlotte Airey

Housing inequity for younger adults is particularly acute in the countryside, and house prices continue to increase faster in rural areas than their urban counterparts. Meanwhile, there’s a growing ecological imperative to eat less meat – 70% less by 2030 as Greenpeace report. What does this mean for the 2.9 million acres of grazing land in the UK? Can the livestock farms approaching the end of their ecological viability help reduce the housing precarity facing younger people today?

Regeneration Rent looks at one such farm – an 83-acre livestock farm outside Pitminster in Somerset – and proposes its adaptive reuse into a contemporary almshouse for Generation Rent. While traditionally providing for older people experiencing hardship, the almshousing model – based on community, affordability and mutual aid – has huge potential benefits for younger adults financially alienated by the UK’s housing system.

Residents pay a weekly maintenance charge comparable to a fair, locally-affordable rent, and its not-for-profit organisational status allows the farm to be bought and developed at agricultural use value. Crucially, this allows former grazing lands to be affordably repurposed for long-term ecological regeneration. The scheme is therefore a test case for development-led rewilding – using truly sustainable housing to drive real environmental repair and reopen the countryside for social/community benefits.

The design utilises materials that can be scalably sourced from UK demolition sites to create a range of housing types and communal facilities within the existing buildings. As a scheme it therefore reuses typology, landscape, buildings and materials to accommodate Gen-Renters of different personal circumstances. The outcome is a new community-focused hamlet deeply rooted within a recovering natural environment.

Ben Taylor, Architect & Urban Designer

Line Undrawn
Janet Hall, Community Consultant for rural and urban change

Dr. Matthew Creasey, Ecologist & Regeneration Specialist

Charlotte Airey, Illustrator & Architectural Designer