Do we need to start building more bungalows in England?
The new Planning Minister issues advice to the construction industry suggesting we need more bungalows so older people can live out their days without having to negotiate stairs and to free up larger houses for families to live in.
Brandon Lewis replaced Nick Boles in the recent cabinet reshuffle and immediately courted controversy with developers by suggesting we need to build more, expensive and land hungry, "quintessentially British" bungalows..
Lewis argues that this would allow older people to move out of their large family homes, especially when their own children have left their home and enable them to downsize to smaller properties.
He was talking about his fears that bungalows are being overlooked by developers, saying: “Representing Great Yarmouth we have got a few areas that have got quite large bungalows and some very, very nice bungalow properties.
“I think they are a really important part of the mix – my inlaws are in their 70s, pretty fit, mentally really with it, they live in a normal house which they both struggle with. They are not ready to move into what they would see as a retirement home, but where they live there is not access to bungalows.
“We should be looking to love bungalows a little bit more. They are an important part of the mix particularly if we do say to people like my in-laws ‘look there is somewhere you can move to which is ideal for you without having to go into what you might see as a retirement home’.
“In some areas on the outskirts of London you have tonnes and tonnes of apartments being built and not enough houses, because not everyone wants to live in an apartment.”
From this year there is a requirement in planning regulations for a certain number of flats and bungalows to be built for older people, which is especially important when you consider that estimates show over half of all new households will be made up by people over 65 years.
Unfortunately, only 300 bungalows were built in 2009 and recent figures don’t fare much better with only 2 percent of new homes being bungalows.
Mr Lewis also recently disclosed that officials from Kettering, Northants had discussed with him their plans for a new development with at least 5,000 new homes (but which could be much bigger).
He said: “Kettering is quite an interesting place – the council there is very forward thinking, really keen to see development. They see big growth there because they see themselves as being able to pick up people who want the quality of life in Kettering but work in London.”
A new town in the North of England still has yet to be mentioned, however our favoured location of building a commuter town conneccting Manchester and Leeds somewhere close to Junction 22 on the M62 would almost certainly benefit from the use of bungalows due to the windy conditions that can be experienced in that location. It will be interesting to see if the plans for Kettering’s development include a large number of bungalows which take up more room than the space saving town houses that are built in many new developments.
The continued emphasis on the development of properties around the UK is great news for the construction industry, however we've yet to see if there's any demand for bungalows in the population, although we might need to build more of them and they might be sensible, if they're going to make buying a house much more costly it's likely they might be a hard sell.