Housing debate: ‘We need more homes in Bristol but should only build them near train stations’

We hear that 85,000 new homes will be needed in the Bristol area by 2035.

I do not think this is anywhere near enough (nor do some others, read here), but more importantly than that, where will they go? Building on brown field sites often takes away land that could be used for job creation. A successful society needs both jobs and homes before it can truly be considered advanced.

There are ways to provide more land for housing without affecting jobs but it requires cross party support and long term planning rather than being a vote producer for whichever party is in power at the time or even an opposition wanting to gain power.

I have written to the housing minister asking for an urgent meeting so that I can fully brief him on an idea I have that could, given a head wind of all party support, provide enough land for the country’s future for the next fifty years without encroaching too much on farmland or eradicating land for employment and job provision.

There is another part of current planning policy which is of great concern to me too! It’s that of attempting to push through rushed planning permissions in towns that do not have the infrastructure to support them. Namely a railway station!

Towns like Portishead and Clevedon near Bristol do not have railway stations which in my opinion should rule them out for future expansion until they do.

There is no point shouting our green credentials in Bristol as European Green Capital and then building communities which rely on cars and buses, which primarily run on diesel, to deliver workers to jobs in the cities like Bristol or Bath which support these satellite towns.

Workers travelling into Bristol from Portishead have no choice other than to use their car or a bus so that they can drive into work and clog up the streets of the city while they spend eight hours sat at their desk.

This is a symptom of outdated thinking. We really must do better and should focus on expanding towns such as Frome, Keynsham, Warminster, Weston-super-Mare and even Severn Beach, where good railway connections exist.

Thornbury is another town earmarked for further growth on the north side of the Bristol. It does not have a railway station, so in my opinion it should be discounted from large scale growth until it does.

There may be a case for expanding or creating new towns or garden cities, as proposed by the Liberal Democrats, but only those connected by rail or tram.

As I say there is a solution but it needs thinking outside the box to achieve it.

We owe it to future generations to deliver a solution that works for the next fifty years rather than the quick fix solutions of the past.

Building more homes in all categories is essential but doing it in a way that improves our overall supply and takes account of the environment and how future communities will live together is just as important.

The best way to stop spiraling house prices or rents is to increase supply in all categories.

If there was a full or preferably slight oversupply of rental property available across the spectrum we wouldn’t need rent controls because the market would do the job for us. There is nothing like competition to keep prices in check.

We have competition in all other areas such as food retailing, car sales and clothing, but not in housing! There just aren’t enough homes to meet demand so rents and purchase prices escalate untapped.

We need houses and apartments in all sectors including many, many more homes built for long-term rental on lifetime tenancies.

As a person born and brought up in Council provided accommodation I dislike intensely the creation of “Affordable Getto’s” that can be created when new provision attempts to lump all new affordable homes together with identical front doors all painted the same colour.

I like the pepper pot idea much moaned about by some of my developer colleagues, some of whom believe it down values private housing by putting rental units in among those sold to private buyers.

With the growth of the buy to let industry this thinking is a bit outdated. How can anyone know that the person moving in next door to the spanking new four bed detached house they have bought for £450,000 won’t be occupied by someone paying rent? How can they know that their new neighbours won’t have five barking dogs and start car repairs on the drive?

It is not only people who rent homes from registered providers who buy or own too many dogs, or play loud music late at night! Millionaires do that too.

Housing provision is too important to be left to chance or to be used as a vote catcher by the main political parties. Any new policy needs cross party support and long term vision if we are to deliver the number of homes our nation needs leading up to 2050.

We need to get cracking now because every day lost exacerbates the problem.

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