Rural futures

Two single-story attached houses with grey coloured roofs and timber facades, set against a rural landscape on Ulva island.
Published: 22/03/2022

In this blog Professor Russel Griggs – Chair of South of Scotland Enterprise – previews the Public Sector Client Forum event on 29 March 2022. 

When South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE) was launched in April 2020, we were immediately faced with one of the biggest challenges of our lifetimes – COVID-19.

SOSE was set up by the Scottish Government due to the unique circumstances of the South of Scotland, and the desire for a fresh approach to drive inclusive growth across our rural region.

While COVID-19 has impacted every facet of our society, research has found Scotland’s rural communities have felt it more than many others.

Challenges for rural economies

Now, as we start to come out of the pandemic, we are considering in more detail the challenges our rural economies are facing – some of which have emerged during COVID-19, and some which were present beforehand.

And this why I was so pleased to be asked to chair the latest Public Sector Client Forum event, which will debate this hugely important topic.

Our discussions will be based around three panel session themes – climate, housing and investments.

The climate session will hear from Gaia Architects, NatureScot and IGS Vertical Farming as we look at ways to connect natural capital with climate resilience and local regeneration.

SOSE has recently concluded a 24-date engagement tour this winter to hear what local people think the priorities should be for our rural economy, with a regular topic of discussion being housing.

Quality housing design

Representatives from Communities Housing Trust, Dumfries-based campus The Crichton and Construction Scotland Innovation Centre will all debate how we can deliver quality housing design and sustainable growth through key rural public sector institutions.

The event will then be brought to a close by a discussion on how we use data resources and the digital rollout to drive smarter investments in our communities.

Sharing their experiences will be representatives from Highland Council, Historic Environment Scotland and the University of Strathclyde’s Fraser of Allander Institute.

At SOSE, we say our aim is to listen, be innovative, different and deliver – which is exactly what we need to do to support our rural communities meet the challenges of the future.

Professor Russel Griggs chaired Architecture and Design Scotland's Public Sector Client Forum on Rural futures on 29 March 2022.

Header image credit: Johnny Barrington

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