I’ve been following Channel 4’s Great British Property Scandal with interest this week. It’s pressed home some important points about how bringing empty homes back into use could help tackle the housing shortage. Many in the media will sit up and take notice of the issue following the programmes and the stories they have thrown up, which has to be a good thing.
One scheme I am familiar with in Swindon will be featured as part of the series as a positive example of what can be done to address the problem. The Triangle, delivered by Kevin McCloud’s Hab Oakus, is set to feature in his Grand Designs documentaries.
I remember attending an event with partners and housing minister Grant Shapps to mark the start of work on the site in May last year. That feels like an age ago. I look forward to seeing it featured now it is complete.
Encouraging support for ‘self builders’ was signalled by the Government today, with Grant Shapps articulating his strong belief that helping more people to build their own homes could be the answer to the country’s housing crisis.
His speech today at ‘Grand Designs Live 2011′ outlined Shapps’ vision for self build (which doesn’t necessarily mean ‘build your own’) to become a mainstream housing option. He wants the Government (and the HCA, as a major landowner) to play a part by making available publicly owned land to people to build their own homes.
He also mentioned a project I am familiar with (and blogged about as being one to watch last year) in Bristol, where the Community Self Build Agency is leading the development of accommodation for homeless ex-servicemen and offering those same people vital training on the construction project. Although this project is not being built on public land, and would not be happening without financial support from the HCA, it remains a fine example of the very best of what the Government wants to achieve.
I blogged recently about considering self build for my family. As I continue to read about the pitfalls and risks involved, announcements like today’s are welcome. It won’t help us get the finance together, find a decent plot or a trusted builder, but it may stabilise the housing market stabilise by bringing a greater number of ‘small time’ builders into the game. This can only be good for those people who can’t get onto the housing ladder.
Besides, I don’t suppose it would be called ‘self build’ if someone else had to do everything for you. But if one of the publicly owned plots the Government releases to self builders happens to be in Temple Cloud, that really would be a bonus.
I returned from the Easter break today to the good news that a planning application to transform the derelict Cashes Green Hospital in Stroud into new homes and community facilities has been submitted to the local planning authority to consider.
I blogged in January about the impressive level of consultation that had gone into shaping the proposals that have been submitted to Stroud District Council. Hundreds of people living near the site have been engaged, through attending the regular consultation events, having newsletters sent to their home or reading the dozens of media articles that have reported on the plans in recent months. In many ways the consultation led by Hab Oakus, a joint venture led by Grand Designs presenter Kevin McCloud and GreenSquare Group, has been textbook stuff.
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