Is that it? seemed to be the general response to the Housing White Paper ‘Fixing Our Broken Housing Market’ which was published last week http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-38884601. The White Paper was short on ambition or the promise of radical reform.
But one thing we should be grateful of is that the White Paper did not give in to the clamour from the volume housebuilders to permit development on green belt land. It would have been the thin end of the wedge and once undeveloped land is gone it’s gone for good.
Plenty of suitable brownfield land is available in areas where infrastructure such as roads, utilities, schools etc already exists and there is enormous opportunity for increased density in already developed sites across the country. It is just that from the volume housebuilder’s point of view brownfield / already developed land is unattractive as it requires ‘expensive’, imaginative, one-off solutions to unlock the development potential whereas rolling out standard house types and estate layouts like so much wallpaper is an easy tried and tested money maker for them.
As well as this these anonymous suburban developments are basically unsustainable relying, as they do, on an unsustainable car-based way of life. We need to recognise that human patterns of development will need to return to the concepts of the village, the town, the neighbourhood and the city – not suburban sprawl.