Property

Could good home design help fight 'scourge' of Nimbyism?

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14th September 2017
"Ask anyone in the country, and they’ll agree that the UK needs hundreds of thousands of new homes"

Land broker Aston Mead has backed a call for good design in the million new homes which are set to be built before the end of the decade.

Director Charles Hesse was responding to comments made last week by Neil Parish, the chairman of the environment select committee, who said that inappropriate construction risked “killing any sense of goodwill” in local communities. His words echoed those of Ruth Davidson, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives back in July, who warned that the Government needed to “avoid the disastrous design choices of the past” in order to create “local support” for additional new building.

Charles Hesse said: “Good design is essential in any new construction. And the truth is that appropriately designed homes need not be any more expensive than inappropriately designed ones.

Instead, it’s a question of selecting a suitable size of development, with an awareness of local infrastructure, a sensitivity to the surroundings in which the new buildings will be placed and a recognition of the features which make those homes desirable to buyers. Developers are businesses after all – and building properties which people are clamouring to buy makes good commercial sense.”

The Conservative manifesto reaffirmed a pledge to build a million new homes in the UK by 2020. But there are fears that the move could prompt a backlash if the homes are unsightly. However, Charles Hesse said there also needed to be an acceptance on the part of communities that some new local building was inevitable.

He explained: “Ask anyone in the country, and they’ll agree that the UK needs hundreds of thousands of new homes. But ask the same people to accept construction in their town or village – in some cases any construction at all – and some will immediately deny that it should take place. Yet they fail to see the contradiction in their argument. It’s a case of ‘Not In My Back Yard’ syndrome or ‘Nimbyism’, which is a scourge of modern British society.

I’ve even seen posters campaigning against new construction in the windows of houses which themselves have recently been constructed. Surely the owners of these homes must understand that newcomers want to live in the area for precisely the same reasons that attracted them. But presumably they believe that whilst it was acceptable for their own home to be built, any more is too much.

Perhaps these people have been put off by the design mistakes of the sixties and seventies. Fortunately, those days are far behind us. The best developers have long recognised that creating homes which are suitable for their surroundings as well as appealing to the needs of modern house buyers is the way forward.

The new minimum home size charter is preventing ‘rabbit hutch’ style properties being built, and advancing technology is making features like glass and solar roofs ever more attractive.

So good design in house building has never been more important – especially when it helps prevent the creation of more Nimbys in our cities, towns and villages.”

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