A gentle reminder for those of you who haven’t been able to read and comment on the Housing Group’s Position Paper (here) that we’d like you to read and comment by the beginning of September and to thank those of you who have read it and particularly those who have made comments.
The topics we’re particularly interested in your views can be found in last weeks post but any comments are welcomed.
A sample of the comments we’ve received follows:
Affordable housing – We should honour whatever government guidelines suggest, but no more.
Social housing – Please keep this to a minimum
Retirement living – I believe this is a good thing and from experience of my late mother-in-laws circumstances, it seemed to work when people over 60, say, were grouped together
Environment/Sustainability – I have read a few Nottinghamshire Wildlife reports suggesting green spaces/wildlife is good for you health. Therefore I would like to see as much parkland, trees, ponds etc as possible.
Retirement village: Good but I think that you have got it right with small clusters as some would like to be just among people their own age and some would like to be mixed with the rest of the community as you say, so I think this is the way forward.
With regard to Affordability, I think it is sensible to adopt the BBC definition since they will simply apply this when they are making planning decisions. I do wonder though how we could innovate in this respect. I’ve long held the view that if someone can reliably pay rent for 5 years then they can be trusted to reliably pay a mortgage to the same monthly cost. I wonder if some sort of accreditation scheme with investment companies could work where for the first 5 years you rent and build up your “rating” and then at the end you get a choice to flip to a mortgage on the property you are in, or qualify for a mortgage you can take to another property. I hear so many people who are paying high rents but can’t get a mortgage and this seems ludicrous to me. Our area could be an innovator in that respect with a rent-to-mortgage scheme. The idea would be simple to establish by designating certain new properties to the scheme during the initial build phase, then as the stock matures and people start to move you make it so that any property can be brought into the scheme for people who have never had a mortgage but want to get on the property ladder.
For Social Housing it’s important to get the balance right. When done well it helps raise people up, when done badly it brings an area down. I was born and raised in an area (in York) where there was a crescent of social housing among a large privately owned housing area. This worked really well – many of my childhood friends lived there, we all went to the same schools. I think streets like Alexandra Crescent in Beeston work really well as an example of this locally. But if you grow much beyond this then it starts to fail.
For Retirement Living it’s simply important to get the right blend so there is choice and affordability. Pockets of bungalows like the ones on Attenborough Lane near the Havelli restaurant are great and add to the character of the area. I think that fits really well with your concept of “small pockets” used for unique developments amongst the standard builds. It needs to work across the spectrum of affordability and disability though. My elderly in-laws would love nothing better than to be in a smaller single storey property with a small shared/community garden and warden assistance (mother-in-law is disabled with arthritis). They live in a terraced house, so this sort of housing is a step up for them and would need to be affordable. My mum on the other hand lives in a large semi and would love to downsize, but in York the bungalows cost more than the semis. So finding a way to offer this mobility to the ones who can afford it is also part of the conundrum.
For Environment/Sustainability I think the language should be really definitive and robust that we are building for the 21st century here and sustainable features MUST be standard in all new buildings (residential and business). It is a false economy not to include solar panels, battery storage, ground source heat, grey water storage/reuse and charging points for electric vehicles, and developers should not be allowed to cut these corners to shave a few pounds off the build costs to increase their profits. As an absolute minimum we should insist that all affordable and social housing has the maximum possible with regard to these features since they all make living day-to-day cheaper.
We should also make sure there are more community centres. There is a dearth of affordable spaces to rent for relatively small sums to be able to run things like yoga, zumba, ballroom dancing, aerobics, social and community gatherings. These help build community. We’ve made many new friends dancing at the Christ Church Hall in Beeston on Wednesday evenings, but as a facility it is very tired and not quite fit for purpose. The area would benefit hughely from more such facilites.
Just a brief specific comment on housing matters. You will be aware of the serious problems caused in many residential areas by cars and vans parking in residential areas. So many households have 2 and more vehicles thus inevitably causing parking issues. I would suggest that any housing proposals give serious consideration to this matter. It may be that severe requirements are placed on future developers through the planning rules of the local authority requiring parkiing provision for at least 2 vehicles. Developers always want high density housing so are not keen on providing good parking at or very close to individual houses.
I was born is a village in Hampshire in 1939 and so have become accustomed to village life. After studying in cities I went to Nothampton to work and lived for over 25 years in a village. Whilst I now appeciate life in Chilwell with its good transport links I also find a form of village life here where people know each other and there is a mixed community. With this background i am a beleiver in mixed housing rather than the boring “executive” houses filling the land and I would hate to live in a retirement village because I like to socialise with all ages and origins.
There is a painful shortage of affordable homes and the renting scene is a disgrace to the nation. If you go to mainland Europs it is common to rent for life. We should not be hamstrung by short term lets.
I also value open space to walk and keep tolerarbly fit and active. We need plenty of trees to clean the air. Look at Bramcote Hills park. I get enormous pleasure looking at the scenery whilst walking.
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