at the bottom of the garden

How do you afford your first home?

In the UK to address the housing shortage the Government suggested that people build houses in their gardens. This is not as daft as it first sounds. Across the country many young people are being priced out of the housing market. Especially in rural areas. They are finding that they cannot afford to live in the towns and villages where they were born and grew up. Most of these areas are what would be considered green field sites and as such have restictions on new buildings being put there.

The Governments idea was that rather than decreeing that new houses could be built on these green field sites, which would have been a very unpopular move, they suggested that families give up some of the land they already own. Old houses usually have large gardens, compared to modern house builds these gardens are often huge. Enough space to build a small house, with its own garden space and still allow garden space for the original house.

By suggesting that families allow houses to be built in their gardens they would increase the housing stock in the places were there was a shortage of available, affordable housing. The families would be able to help members of their own family get on the propert ladder whilst retaining the green field areas where they lived that helped make the existing properties so valuable.

What is the impact of this?

Well it actually appears to be very little. Nothing has happened, large tracts of new housing is being built in areas that many claim are green field sites. Yet no one appears to be building in their gardens.

Part of the reason for this could be that local authorities are not granting the necessary planning permission.

My brother lives in the family garden. He is much younger than me and unlike me did not want to leave the rural air of Devon for London. Devon is his home and he is happy there. Only he cannot afford to buy a house there. He has is own company, doing gardening. He lives with his partner and their young son in a mobile home in the garden of my parents.

He wants to live in the village where he grew up but over the last few years property prices there have increased dramatically, as they have across the UK. In fact where he lives is little more than a Hamlet, with a local church (and therefore a Parish Council).

A search on the local councils website planning portal shows that planning permission was refused. You cannot yet access much more information on the application and they do not yet have a copy of the application viewable on the site.

All they want is a house, a small house and his parents have offered him the opportunity.

Further investiagtion though revealed a probable reason why the planning permission was refused. Someone on the local Parish council complained. They allegedly reasoned that the older people in the Hamlet did not want young people to live there, they felt intimidated. What they wanted was a retirement village, a space where they would feel secure.

It is fair to say that a lot of the occupants of the Hamlet did not grow up there, have not spent their childhood there. Most have moved there later in life, either owning second homes or finally retiring to the Hamlet.

I am currently investigating this further, and will report back here as it does affect the climate. The Government wants a lot of new houses built but finding the land on which to build them, that is the problem. Do we loose green belt land, clean up brown belt land or increase further the density of our current urban environs?