Where will our children live when they are grown up? Well, unless we have houses for them in our area, the answer is going to be, ‘not here’!
The knock-on effects of low house-building numbers are that younger people will find it harder to pay for a roof over their head as the combination of rising rents and falling house-build numbers make housing less affordable.
The Council of Mortgage Lenders put it this way: “A factor is quietly at work that has the potential to profoundly shape the longer-term nature of home-ownership and mortgage lending in the UK. Housing wealth is slowly but surely becoming more concentrated in the hands of older households.”
The British love of housing really took off with the then Prime Minister, Anthony Eden, and his campaign for a ‘property owning democracy’ in the 1950s.
Not for us the European model of renting. We’ll buy a flat or a house.
As the country’s population increased, so too did our housing aspirations.
Throughout the post-war years Governments of all colours at each election time boasted that they would build more and more houses and people voted for them because that is what they wanted – a home of their own for everyone!
In the 1970s and 1980s a growing sense of entitlement, particularly from the post-war baby-boomer generation, provided additional pressure on housing.
Young people were leaving home earlier in life, striking out on their own and demanding independence and looking for a house.
At the same time, older generations were living longer and seeking to maintain their independence.
They chose to remain in their own homes.
Public policy has supported these expectations ever since.
The Chartered Institute of Housing put it this way, ‘We want everyone to have a decent, affordable home in thriving safe communities. Government needs to step up its efforts in response and be more ambitious in its strategy to boost housing supply and activity in the wider housing sector.’
So how are we doing in our district?
Well, firstly we look at the facts that we are all living longer, more of us are getting divorced or are staying single longer.
In fact the drop in the number of people living in each house has gone down by over six per cent over the last ten years.
At the same time our population has grown because we live in a lovely area and we have very low unemployment so people come here because there is work available.
In fact our population is predicted to grow by 10,000 people over the next ten years.
And these extra 10,000 people will need somewhere to live.
What is Horsham District Council doing?
Firstly, we are working with our parishes to do housing assessments so that they can tell us the number and types of homes they feel we need at the present time.
Secondly, we are looking at where houses could be built in the Horsham District.
We will also look where we can turn empty offices into flats and build on existing brownfield sites, but this will not be enough.
Thus we shall need to look at greenfield sites while doing our best to maintain the character and beauty of our area.
The result will undoubtedly be that councillors’ email boxes will be full of letters telling us that a particular community doesn’t want any more houses and offering what people believe are sound reasons for this - in effect of course saying that they should go somewhere else or maybe that we should not provide them at all.
So I return to my original question.
Where will our children live when they are grown up?