COMPULSORY PURCHASE & SUSTAINABILITY APPRAISALS
If ever there was a minefield of policy contradictions, Sustainability Appraisals is one such area. This is particularly so in rural areas, where there is a duty to conserve and enhance the landscape of the district. There is also the requirement to reduce the need for transport, which, in the case of villages that are distant from industrial areas or shopping centers - building homes that will mean travel to work and schools, may not meet the requirement to reduce our carbon footprint.
One such example is the village of Herstmonceux. Homes built in this village for families, will carry with them the carbon burden of transport to a school in Hailsham or surrounding villages and towns, where there is insufficient capacity at the existing school, that is demonstrably already overloaded - with the villagers protesting against cuts in transport services.
Whereas, sustainable development demands the gradual increase of infrastructure to cope with new housing, without causing stress to families, that would be inevitable if to send ones children to school would mean more carbon production and travel time. The ideal would be for children to be within reasonable walking distance of a school.
Given that developers will be required to provide affordable housing that is similar in appearance to open market housing and also integrated into the overall scheme, customers for the market housing will not be in an exclusive area, meaning that the market housing will not command a significantly higher value, as one might expect of buying a house in the country that is either stand alone or a Brownfield site infill.
For this reason a developer may not achieve the high profits (expected yield) that would entice him to build where a council are looking for affordable homes - in which case the council might consider acquiring the land via the issue of a compulsory purchase order.
Any council might then apply for planning consent applying in house knowledge directly to meet with their existing Sustainability Appraisal. If necessary such a proposal could be tested by inviting the Secretary of State to call in the application if he thinks it deviates from National Policy. This is the ultimate way of testing a proposal from a council.
ROLLING STOCKS OF LAND
Councils may control the value of land by identifying areas where affordable housing is needed most and earmarking that land for the development of low cost housing as part of their Local Plan. Planning consents should then be refused for open market value housing on land reserved for affordable development.
COMMUNITY LAND TRUSTS
Once planning consent is finally obtained, the land could then be developed by the council, or offered to a CLT or other social housing group for development (build). Ideally, this should be offered to as many bidders as possible to obtain the lowest price commensurate with the necessity for high quality.
This is a matter of design. Traditional house building is the most expensive option (bricks and mortar), but one a less visionary council can more easily accept. It is possible to streamline builds using standard designs, but this will never equal the lower cost of pre-fabricated homes that may be flat-packed.
One only has to look at the improvement in design of the average fitted kitchen to see how a formula can be developed. Fitted kitchens are of course based on chipboard that is not long lasting in a building sense. Pre-fabricated houses should be constructed of treated timbers and steels, such that the life expectancy is 100 years plus.