Memorandum by the Residents' Action Group
1. THE POTENTIAL
Having lived in all types of housing, private
rented sector, Council Housing, and in occupied homes I recommend
that more home ownership in the community will benefit not only
to those living in the dwellings but to the greater public at
It has been noticed that in areas of housing
dominated by homeowners suffer less vandalism, anti-social behaviour
and low level crime, including criminal damage to cars and property.
The only exceptions are student ghettos, where absentee landlords
rent out to students and other groups of young, mainly single
people. These areas suffer damage due to the drunken behaviour
of those returning to their homes late at night.
However, the more people that want to buy homes,
the greater pressure on developers to cram more units into the
city centres, leading to unacceptable pollution levels and un-neighbourly
unhealthy living conditions.
2. THE EXTENT
The greater the home ownership ratio the more
likely the shift in poverty from social housing tenants and private
renters to the home owners who have taken out mortgages of a value
far beyond their ability to pay back in their working lifetime.
It is therefore necessary reinstate that which used to be call
"council housing" so that young couples and single buyers
are not forced by economic circumstances to borrow beyond their
There are not enough housing associations units
to relieve the pressure on the market, and forcing those who cannot
afford to buy into that market only pushes the poverty problem
further into the future, as houses are repossessed and middle
aged people are made homeless without a chance to get into the
private or social rented sector.
There will always be inequalities in the housing
sectors due to the wage levels and social standing of the persons
living in any kind of housing units in any given area.
The fact is inescapable and needs no further
3. THE ECONOMIC
Generally absolutely disastrous and a great
concern to everyone in the community. As more and more people
lose hope of ever being able to afford to buy a home, they have
to live in flatlets or shared houses, known as Houses in Multiple
Vast ghettos of these houses abound in the areas
in the city and into the suburbs, owned by absentee landlords
who care little for the comfort of their tenants or the slummy
appearance of the ghettos, as houses are uncared for and gardens
become rat ridden jungles filled with rubbish and unwanted furniture.
Add to this the numbers of bars and clubs opened
to cater for this section of society, which includes thousands
of students, and the life for those who bought family homes in
the areas which have now become ghettos is absolute hell.
We suffer sleep privation and stress, shouting
and screaming as drunken revellers storm through the streets on
their way home. smashing up cars and kicking down front garden
walls. On a recent TV programme on binge drinking it was stated
that statistics show that as house prices rise, so does binge
drinking increase, as young people have no incentive to save for
Living in such an area I can verify that the
greed of landlords to get as many houses as possible ready for
the student market during the last fifteen years was the start
of the last great increase in the price of homes, and prices are
still rising. These landlords offer more than the houses are worth,
and the stressed long term residents are willing to sell to flee
the unbearable conditions of living in the ghettos, which in turn
becomes even worse with more young people crammed into the area.
4. THE RELATIONSHIP
The ratio between houses for sale and those
sough, after by buyers became unbalanced mainly during the early
nineteen nineties as the numbers of students increased. The need
for them to have the use of four bedroomed houses where five or
six of them could share the facilities meant that in some areas
of our cities over 70% of the such house become Houses in Multiple
Occupation. The exodus of long standing residents from these noisy
and vandalised ghettos increased pressure on the for sale market.
As a result of the awful lifestyle caused by
the bad behaviour of students and other young persons, more people
fled to the suburbs or the countryside. These desperate people
were willing to pay over the odds for homes in areas where they
could lead a decent life, this then encouraged more people to
put their houses on the market, fuelling a rush to buy before
prices increased and were beyond the means of middle aged buyers.
Added to this were factors of a different social problem, the
urge of young people to leave their parents homes and set up in
their own abodes, as well as competing with newly divorced couples
for the dwellings in the lower price brackets. There have never
been enough of these types of housing units to satisfy demand,
and sellers could name their own price as demand increased.
5. OTHER FACTORS
Building regulations and strict guidelines by
building control and planning have left the public with no choice
but to place themselves in lifelong debt to buy a home.
There seems to be no good reason why we cannot
have wooden Scandinavian type homes, many of which are prefabricated
built on flat brownfield sites, or even in the countryside if
the ground were proven to be safe from flood and unstable conditions
due to severe weather changes. The use of such homes, a really
low prices would give buyers a choice that they could afford,
and the sellers of the traditional brick or granite built homes
would be forced to bring their prices down.
6. THE SCALE
The plans are ambitious and a cause of a great
deal of worry to citizens already living in areas where the habitable
Rooms per Acre ratio is exceeded in a dangerous and unsatisfactory
manner. The sewage systems, drainage of water from gardens and
roads is under too much pressure to be able to withstand any more
"cramming" in the city brownfield sites, and the spread
of housing around the cities filling the strategic gap between
them denies citizens the joy of having any countryside views or
places where they can go and enjoy leisure activities. Forcing
people further out into the countryside leads to environmental
problems, with the extra use of traffic on the roads causing pollution.
7. THE RELATIVE
It is more important to concentrate on the supply
of subsidised housing, as the private housing market appears to
be booming, with developments going up in so many cramped sites,
where elegant Victorian or Edwardian houses once stood, or in
back gardens, or any "rabbit hole" that attracts the
attention of greedy developers ready to corner a niche in the
market. Developers should be made to supply more that the present
required ratio of social housing units when they ask for planning
permission to put up new estates or blocks of flats.
8. HOW THE
Actively encourage modernistic, cheaper, prefabricated
housing units in tasteful styles to blend in with the more traditional
designs of homes already in the area. Allow chalet style bungalows,
wooden or metal construction, to be built among low level buildings,
and encourage architects willing to encompass these measures by
holding seminars to guide them towards the new concepts of housing
and bungalow design that would be acceptable to Planning Officers
in the future.
9. THE SCALE
No matter how many houses and flats are given
planning permission there would be very little impact on the price
structure already set by previous housing trends. The need for
even more living units will become greater as immigrants from
the European Union and developing countries surge to our shores
to take advantage of a better lifestyle.
Already such persons are filling up Houses in
Multiple Occupation and if successful in finding lucrative employment
will seek larger accommodation for themselves and their families
at a later date. Recent press reports of a future energy crisis
should be heeded by planners, and current projected numbers of
new homes should be culled in order to protect the environment
and health of the generations to come as they will be the ones
to suffer from ill advised decisions on housing numbers made by
the present administration.
10. THE REGIONAL
Until the Government stop being soft on crime
and get control of the appalling situation regarding drug abuse
and violence in the cities of the Midlands and the north of England,
the urge of people to live in the south will become greater, and
house prices there will never be lowered. Although areas around
and outside London are subject to high crime statistics people
are prepared to put up with that in exchange for the advantage
of more employment opportunities and less time spent on commuting.
It is sad that so many old town terrace cottages in the Northern
cities are being razed to the ground, as the areas become too
dangerous for people to live there. It is another sad fact that
attempts to upgrade these areas lead to prices for properties
becoming out of reach for local people or the lower wage earner.
Developers need to be made to contribute to the saving of the
older houses in exchange for planning permission to build new
homes nearby. The older houses should be subsidised and many available
for rent in the social housing sector.