Housing in West Cornwall – an opinion
Whenever I am asked to do a TV or radio interview about property, it often seems to be either: ‘developers are ruining our beautiful countryside by building all over it’ or; ‘we aren’t building enough properties to meet demand’; with the angle usually then being ‘first time buyers are being forced out of the market’ or the often well-intentioned but usually mis-informed views on second home owners. One thing is certain; property discussions always arouse strong opinions.
Do we need more housing? Yes. Easy one. Where should it be built? More contentious
Do we need more social housing (council owned housing)? In my view, yes. Should everyone have an automatic, guaranteed right to it no matter where they live now, their personal circumstances and treatment of past accommodation (bad tenants/ damage to property/ socially disruptive etc)? More contentious. In my view, tax payers should not guarantee everyone housing unconditionally.
What about ‘affordable housing’? I don’t believe such a thing really exists without discriminating against certain sections of society (I believe that there is no such thing as ‘positive discrimination’) and I am against it for other reasons too (link to my blog on the subject “Affordable housing doesn’t work”
NIMBYISM. If we agree that we need more housing; social, private or, both, then we need to agree where we are going to build them. Cornwall doesn’t have good public transport and never will and, cars cost a lot to run so; we need to build the majority of our new homes near to centres of work, NOT in rural areas. That’s not to say we shouldn’t build in rural areas at all, but we need to focus our efforts on where the problem is greatest.
We need more two and three bedroom properties for sale and rent close to towns and large villages. This means we are going to have to accept either imaginative use of existing brownfield sites and change of use of buildings that some would like to see remain for heritage reasons. It also means we are going to have to lose some green space around the edge of towns.
Everyone wants to help first-time-buyers (FTB) and young families and pensioners who (desperately) need sheltered/ warden controlled accommodation in West Cornwall…Until they think it is going to be built next to their home.
House prices. If we build lots of FTB homes, the average price will fall but, it will never fall enough for everyone to be able to afford to buy. It’s a fact that cannot be escaped, no matter how much we might like it to be so. This means we have to provide enough suitable properties for people to be able to rent and expand their families whilst continuing to rent. This challenge must be taken up by either private or social builders or both and, local people must ensure that they try to think of the community as a whole when planning applications are submitted close to their homes.
Planning and design. We live in the 21st Century; let’s show future generations how creative and talented OUR generation of architects are, and allow more imaginative designs than the usual bland boxes that so many dull unimaginative builders want to build or, are required to build by dull unimaginative planners. I KNOW that there are builders and planners out there who want to build beautiful, imaginative, low-cost, low energy homes that have character but convention is holding them back.
Chris Wood 07.06.13
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About Chris Wood: Chris is an estate agent with over 25 years of property experience. His business, PDQ Estates Ltd is based in Penzance and Helston, West Cornwall. He has worked with all sizes and types of businesses from single office independents to the management team and board of RBS and Tesco. A former President Elect of the NAEA and board member of NFoPP until he resigned in 2009, Chris has always championed the highest professional standards for estate agents in the UK. No stranger to the media, he has appeared on various programs including BBC, News 24, ITV, independent and BBC radio and is a regular contributor to trade journals, local and national Newspapers. Chris is on KloutLinkedIn Ecademy Facebook and Twitter Married to Amanda, he lives in Penzance with their children who are slowly flying the nest, his two dogs and his elderly Uncle. In his spare time; Chris likes to keep fit and is a long-standing member of the Territorial Army. In 2010 he mobilised for a tour of duty in Afghanistan with 1 Rifles as part of 3 Commando Brigade.