Raised in 2013 in a think tank paper by the Policy Exchange, bungalows have now resurfaced as a new Government policy.
The title of this blog is my nickname for the recently appointed Minister of Housing and Planning – Mr Brandon Lewis. Few Housing Ministers last in post very long, because few Governments of any political complexion manage to develop a serious long-term housing policy. Certainly not one which will address the country’s housing shortage.
A consequence of this is that each new Housing Minister feels obliged to come up with a comprehensive strategy within weeks of their appointment. This is especially true if there is an election less than 12 months away. Of course, in these circumstances, the need is to grab headlines and capture votes rather than build anything at all.
Mr Lewis’s new gimmick is good old bungalows. What a unique idea? Drawn from the 1950’s and 60’s, so not exactly new.
The problem is that Bungalow Brandon has not been reading my blog (see “Bungalow Mindset” and “Bungalow Metaphors” in the Archive dated September 2013).
If he had been he would know that bungalows take up rather a lot of land, which the planning half of his department will oppose till their dying day. That is why only 2% of homes in England are bungalows. In 2009 only 300 were built.
At least Mr Brandon Lewis sees the need for more retirement housing to free up homes for families. Estimates suggest 2.2 million more homes will be needed by 2021 of which the over 65’s will make up 1.2 million. It is a mammoth task that deserves much more than sound bite political answers.
Take the shackles off the planning system; speed up development; seed fund retirement housing and promote new forms of equity release financial models that allow wider access to retirement housing. These are strategic ways forward though I doubt Mr Brandon will have had time to consider them in the short time since he has been appointed. Neither are they quick fix issues since they probably require changes in legislation, all of which takes time.
Older people and housing developers could tell Bungalow Brandon what to do, but I doubt that he will listen.