It has been calculated that we need over 200, 000 new homes a year to solve the UK housing crisis. Whether that is true or not is not the point. Many people who need a home cannot afford one and end up living in poorly cared for rented accommodation. Poor housing has adverse affects on one’s health. Even if one can afford a home, it is often only because it is located miles away from one’s work. And mortgages, even though comparatively cheap at the moment, are still out of reach of many people or have been given at several times one’s income, which in time when the interest rates go up will cause many defaults on payments. Then there are the builders who are only interested in creating large estates to make maximum profits, usually on greenfield sites, which has a knock-on effect with regards to the environment. So, we need a new approach. Here are a few suggestions:
– the national government needs to create regional housebuilding social enterprises which will only build social housing on small sites around cities and in rural communities. That way, local services will not be overwhelmed and more ‘brownfield’ sites can be used. Proper funding should be provided by the Government, with income from sales providing annual finance for further new homes.
– all building employees to be quality checked; planning to be done so that there is no wastage of materials; environmental controls are followed like using locally-sourced products, waste re-used (if practical), etc; each house to come with an EPC of A+ and a full guarantee with regard to bad workmanship and repairs for five years.
– the design of each house should be done in such a way that they have ‘character’ and fit into the local area. Each house to have a minimum of two bedrooms, a shower room/toilet, a kitchen/diner and living room with proper storage in each room. At least an off-road driveway for one car. Security features should include secure doors (with a front door one way peep hole) and windows, appropriate external lighting and alarm systems. (CCTV may be necessary in some cases.)
– all new houses must be built so that they are virtually emissions-free, with thicker walls (well insulated), solar panels, water-harvesting facilities, loft insulation above standard, glazing which keeps out the cold and keeps in the heat, under floor insulation and energy-saving devices like radiators which can keep rooms at a constant temperature throughout the day. Also, all rooms to be built to a standard size which is a lot larger than current new homes.
– social housing to be sold only to first-time buyers on the condition they do not move for at least five years, unless they have more than one child, and then they are not sold for a profit so that they can be offered to other first-time buyers.
– all new housing have access to their own gardens and the streets are wide with proper paving designed for disabled people and families with pushchairs, etc. Access to fast broadband is essential.
– as part of new housing developments, an integrated transport system is incorporated into the plans, so as to make sure car use is kept to a minimum.
I am sure there are a few other ‘standards’ that should be met so that the new housing does not fall into a dilapidated state within ten years.
If we do not have standards such as above, there will be problems in later years.