The Planning Director of one of the country’s most respected land brokers is calling on the UK’s villages to take the lead in house building.
Adam Hesse from Aston Mead Land & Planning says that this could produce over 300,000 new properties in a way which would be a genuine benefit to local communities.
He explains: “What I am proposing is that every village in the country agrees to build between five and ten new homes each over the next five years. So instead of having hundreds of homes imposed on them by big construction companies, the villagers themselves could play a part in deciding where these new homes are built, their size and cost, and what they look like.
“This would help ensure vibrant communities, boosted by the arrival of new families with children attending local schools. It might also prevent the closure of shops or pubs through lack of support, as well as avoiding a level of demand on the local infrastructure which would be unsustainable. With over 30,000 villages in the UK, that’s an additional 300,000 properties that otherwise simply would not have been built.”
Adam Hesse says that this would be in addition to the creation of 14 ‘garden villages’ from Cornwall to Cumbria already announced by the government, which would in itself create 48,000 new homes.
He adds: “Understandably, people living in villages are concerned about changes to their surroundings and to their way of life. This can lead to charges of ‘nimbyism’ – whereas in fact it’s more often a reasonable fear of transforming the character of these villages forever.
“So let the giants of the construction industry play their part in towns and cities which can accommodate the level of housing required. But in our villages, how much better it would be for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to consult with the community and build up to ten bespoke properties, of a style and mix considered suitable, and designed to suit each village’s requirements – the purchase of which could even be restricted to those already living locally.”
Adam Hesse says that most UK villages have a parcel of land within the area of the local plan, suitable for such small-scale construction.
He explains: “People very often don’t realise the construction possibilities of the land near where they live. It could be a former builder’s yard, petrol station, or unused paddock on the edge of the village. In some cases, the building of houses there would be a positive enhancement of the surroundings, as well as adding to the area’s vibrancy and desirability.
“Of course, no one would be forced to sell a piece of land if they didn’t like what was being proposed for it. But if they want a positive, sympathetic and experienced view of a piece of land’s potential, we would be delighted to hear from them.”