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Housing – the big issue

GreenGauge affordable homes in Lingwood, Norfolk
GreenGauge Homes, Lingwood. This development of 15 homes achieved an Ecohomes 2006 rating of ‘Excellent’ and Code 4 of the Code for Sustainable Homes. It is a Constructing Excellence Demonstration Project and received a CPRE Norfolk Award.

Unrealistic and excessive housing targets totally reliant on a few national house builders are simply not delivering the kind of houses Norfolk needs.

This approach has given rise to schemes on greenfield sites which are not serving the local community’s needs and are damaging our environment.

We need to stop spending time allocating more major sites for houses, as we already have a 30+ year supply.

Instead, we should be looking at how to get the houses we need built, including affordable and retirement homes, in the right places, both in rural communities and in towns and our city near jobs and services.

Developing disused sites, converting unused commercial property into housing and legislating to bring upper floors of shops back into use rather than sitting empty will make a substantial difference. Higher density sites in urban areas with shared green and productive community garden spaces are vital in providing housing for all.

A+ environmental standards are needed for new buildings

It is a scandal that we do not build all houses to a standard which minimises the use of resources needed, reducing the cost to the occupiers and helping save energy and other resources such as water. We must invest in local energy production too.

We should encourage the use of new building techniques, not only to improve the efficiency of buildings, but also to speed up the process and create new businesses. By actively encouraging and investing in self build schemes we can take a new approach to housing provision.

Do you agree we should:

  • Ensure that additional greenfield sites are not allocated for housing until the plentiful supply of existing sites has been utilised?
  • Block the planning loophole which allows developers to impose developments in areas not allocated for housing?
  • Stop urban sprawl, prioritise brownfield sites and apply the green belt principles to town planning?
  • Link infrastructure with housing and jobs to support local needs?
  • Become more innovative and use a mix of traditional and new methods of building, and legislate for new houses to be built to A+ environmental standards?
  • Invest in the best design and planning for new and extending communities?
  • Have direct government investment in affordable houses?
  • Look at new ways to realise the value from development to pay for community and infrastructure development?
  • Understand the factors behind the shift from owned to rental housing, and from public sector to private sector provision and achieve a balance?
  • Make existing housing allocations smaller and better targeted to deliver houses of the right type, price and quality, and invest in community self build schemes?
  • Strengthen neighbourhood planning so that local communities can have a real say about the level and location of development?
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