THE Duke of Westminster hosted an event aimed at helping people who live and work in rural areas but cannot afford a house of their own.
Private and public sectors attended the conference at his Eaton Hall home, near Chester, on Monday.
More than 130 companies, government representatives and charities from across England and Wales tackled the pressing need for affordable housing facing rural communities.
They shared the common aim of helping local people remain in their communities and keep their schools, shops, pubs and other services alive.
The Duke told BBC Radio Five Live there were many reasons why there was a shortage of rural housing.
He said: 'There are a number of factors and especially in the Cheshire part of the world, which is a very affluent part of the world. There are immense problems in terms of pressure on rural housing because people can't find houses to live in the urban area so therefore they naturally gravitate to the country areas.
'So it's a pressure of people, it's a pressure of money, and it's the lack of availability of suitable sites close to, specifically, urban areas which are very wealthy and affluent such as up here.'
The Duke, possibly Britain's best known landowner, was asked whether the rural population was rising faster than the urban population because some incomers were drawn to an idealised version of the country way of life.
He responded: 'I think certainly some people moving into this area expect rural life to be idyllic until it starts to rain and snow and I think, yes, there are preconceived ideas about what the rural area is all about but my specific worry is the ability to keep the cohesion of our villages, our church, our shops, our vicarage and all the other things.'
The Duke, who is the second richest man living in Britain, said part of the solution lay in working with landowners to release surplus and under-used sites for the development of affordable housing.
He added that lenders and investors should be supported to provide access to loans and mortgages and to invest in the development of shared ownership and equity schemes.