The UK housing shortage is a serious concern which needs addressing and it is interesting to see how George Osborne et al. plan to tackle the issue.
I recently moved here from a relatively young country (Australia – colonised a little over 200 years ago), and fell in love with the English architecture, particularly all the old towns and houses. There are a few beautiful old buildings in Australia but virtually no houses over the age of 80. Obviously this is due to the youth of the country, but it is something that is unlikely to change in the centuries to come.
Very few houses are built to a standard which will allow them to survive past 100 years, and if they do, they will be seen as old and decrepit. Knocking them down and rebuilding will generally be seen as the best option.
As a result, centuries from now Australians will continue to travel to the UK, marvelling at the beautiful old towns which simply don’t exist in their own country. That is, as long as those towns remain beautiful.
The protected buildings in the town will continue to survive and add character, but the effect of their character will dwindle if they continue to be engulfed by new housing developments where beauty / build quality is sacrificed for build speed and quick sales.
By using local rather than imported materials, intelligently designing the housing development, and creating a house design which complements the current town, it is possible to build enough high quality homes to meet the needs of future generations, while maintaining the intrinsic character of the town.
If designed correctly, developing homes in this style can add enough value to the final sale price to cover the additional costs, meaning profits to the land owner and developer needn’t be negatively affected. Homes built in this style not only sell for more, they also sell quicker. This can generate a greater Net Present Value for the developer, while lowering their risks.
Because using local materials will not only conform to the current character of the town, but also improve the local economy, it is likely to result in an increased level of local support, while improving their chances of achieving planning permission.
Unfortunately, it appears developers have ‘developed’ a habit of associating risk almost solely with the costs involved. They appear to discount the better public image, the additional sales values, the quicker sale speeds, the increased local support and improved chances of achieving planning permission. They prefer to conform to their approved procedures, building the same homes with the same materials in each town because that format is proven to achieve a certain return for a minimal level of expenditure.