In his third blog on the topic of housing Jonathan Griffin considers what sort of housing we want to build during the planning period (up to 2030). To say we need X new houses is all very well but what sort of houses might these be?
Our existing estates are very mixed. The most attractive and least obtrusive is probably the Lemon Hill development in Mylor Bridge which blends in different local styles. It won an award for its design. Some other recent estates are perhaps less successful as examples of a contemporary Cornish style but may settle in over time.
Surely no one wants an estate of cornflake boxes ‘all made out of ticky-tacky’ and all looking ‘just the same’. There are some obvious examples in neighbouring towns and they look distinctly un-Cornish, especially when brochures describe the options as ‘The Cotswold’, ‘The Southwold’, or ‘The Dorchester’.
That is not suitable in Cornwall and is out of keeping for the parish. Our existing historic buildings have strong architectural characters which are recognisably Cornish: slate hung walls, slatting, white render, granite coins and rough stone are all familiar features. Well-designed new houses can fit in very successfully.
Some mixed developments of open-market and affordable housing blend the houses together into a single successful social mix. Others suggest a divide which unhelpful to the point of insult, as though the rich were in a gated development of gold-plated houses and the rest were in shacks outside the gate. This hardly enhances a sense of community.
If we are to develop some sheltered housing for older people then it will need to be near to the centre of the existing settlements and probably in the form of ground floor apartments or single storey dwellings.
Sustainability is a big issue and thankfully the national and local regulations are now tough. But could we, should we, be asking for more? Should we be setting a higher standard of sustainability than in other parishes requiring houses to have more energy saving devices, for instance? What standards might we set?
Of course, development does not just mean housing. A rational development plan needs to take in all the knock-on consequences of growth. Are our schools large enough? Have we enough open space and recreation facilities close to housing? Can our roads cope? Are we providing enough expansion space for shops, businesses, and other enterprises? Should we be considering a small industrial estate or some live/work units?
Are your housing needs for the future being met? If not, what could the solution be?