All the snazzy building innovation in the world can't replace what matters most: building good quality homes, with residents' needs in mindby Jade Azim / November 5, 2019 / Leave a comment
Growing up, I lived on a council house-lined street that, because our council was so struck for cash, was decaying. With very little esteem for our homes, we felt abandoned until, one day, they asked social tenants on the road how their houses could be improved.
Consultation afforded us a voice. With a few basic, cost-efficient solutions—such as new doors, re-tiled roofs, and solar panel—it also reinvigorated the street. We had finally been listened to and our housing, and subsequently the community, were better for it.
The distinction between high quality and low-quality homes clearly has an impact on wellbeing and esteem. The criminological ‘broken window’ theory, which proposes that a run-down, crime-ridden community encourages only more degradation, is well-trodden—but there remains something to be said about the impact of a place’s beauty on how someone feels about their world.
Whereas on my street we found a voice, in the private sector, renters often face severe neglect, scrambling for box rooms in moldy homes that barely reach the threshold of legality. We live in the remnants of poor planning, and of austere conditions in which councils for a long while have not been able to build adequate new stock, meaning private developers replace them, creating new homes which are “ingenious” to the point of ridiculous.
The story that broke this summer of homeless families living in shipping containers should have provoked more reaction and action than it did. The government that has allowed this to happen has overseen an unfettered free market that has created a cataclysmic housing crisis. Such solutions to this crisis are normal, now. The residents attracted little sympathy and certainly no clear response, adding to this sense that poor tenants are undeserving of anything more than the most basic life necessities if even those.
While of course not equal in severity, developments like the London-based PocketLiving expose the extent to which developers have utilised solutions even for new, young homeowners that, perhaps just a decade ago, would have elicited a grimace. Built from purpose-built containers stacked on top of each other, for local residents there is a considerable discount.
However, whilst it is aimed at first-time buyers, the average Pocket buyer earns £40,000, well above the London average. Not…