By now many of you will have seen the billboards advertising the properties for sale at the Grange site on Wyche Lane. Some effort has been made to meet the village Design Statement and the Neighbourhood plan
The use of local materials such as red Cheshire brick and sandstone with slate or clay tile roofs, white–washed finishes, hedgerows, sandstone banks and walls will be encouraged to maintain the local vernacular and enhanced sense of place.
(Bunbury Neighbourhood Plan Policy LC1 The built Environment)
The Design and Access statement is pre-BNP having been submitted in 2014. Outline planning permission was not granted until July 2016. I have not found any update to the Statement although since Duchy Homes started to meet the reserved items of the original consent more details have emerged.
Two things strike me about this development. Firstly the high prices being asked for these plots. The two bedroom apartments (not ‘flats’ at these prices!) start at £340k. The houses for sale are described by Duchy Homes as ‘Luxury’ and come at premium price with the top asking price just under £900k and the ‘cheapest’ at £760k. These prices compare with the average price of sold properties in Bunbury of £465k How well they sell will emerge overtime but already two are ‘reserved’; .
Next , a look at the ‘affordable homes in plots 11-14 throws up another question. They appear to be quite small. The floor plan would seem to suggest they are about the same size as the double garages attached to the bigger properties. Of course these properties have a second floor so the space available is larger than a double garage! Have a look at the design below.
Affordable Housing on the Grange site
Is this the best we can do for affordable housing? As prices of houses rise does it mean that affordable one’s have to become proportionately smaller? Or does the cost of the affordable homes push up the prices of the ‘market’ properties on sale? I doubt the second explanation as the cost of these houses are recouped from the social housing company that takes over the management of these dwellings.
In fact the UK does not appear to have any legal space standards. There are ‘technical standards’ as part of the planning process. These specify an area for single and double storey homes. A one bedroom property (double or twin) should be at least 58SqM while for 2 bedrooms it is 70sqM.
The UN Special rapporteur on housing was in London a week ago to look at the Grenfall Tower tragedy. She had a number of troubling comments to make:
“My sense is that in London there is an emphasis on the development of property to attract money and wealth to the city. My concern is that is overemphasised, and the standards and wellbeing of tenants in social housing are underemphasised, and that is a structural issue.”
Is this true of many areas outside the capital? What would it look feel like if we replace ‘London’ with ‘Bunbury’? She went on to say:
“The fact that so many residents have said to me they are not being treated as human beings is suggestive of a society that is structured in a way where those in social housing are viewed perhaps as counting less. And that is deeply troubling.”