There are challenges ahead for affordable housing, but also real opportunities…
There are interesting times ahead for the national and local housing markets.
Last week I read a lengthy article about the number of Londoners contacting rural and coastal estate agents to enquire about a move. The article asserted that the Covid pandemic had increased people’s desire for homes with gardens, beautiful nearby walks and views, away from busy cities. This isn’t a new trend. Historians tell us that even back during the ‘Black Death’ those with the means to leave London for the safer countryside, did.
In today’s digitally connected world, if you can work from home, commuting time becomes redundant for many.
When the current crisis ends, it’s very likely that many employers will embrace the longer-term benefits of not having all their staff in expensive centralised offices. This means the potential for households to relocate to areas of the country previously only sparsely populated because of lack of employment, or proximity to major towns and cities, could rise.
Obviously, this will generally apply to households with higher incomes. Shop workers, delivery drivers and nurses can’t work from home! The article I read focused on Londoners looking for homes with pools and cinema rooms, enabled by huge equity release. However, when they buy homes at the top of the rural/ costal market there will be an impact on the ability of existing local households further down the ladder to remain living in those communities.
Hampshire was highlighted in the article as a place of interest for those leaving London.
We all know that the M3 and rail access to Waterloo has always made commuting accessible from places like Winchester and Basingstoke, but home working may open up the less physically connected parts of the county.
What is clear, is the need for good quality affordable housing will continue to grow, especially to help our rural villages remain places where families can continue to live, work, shop and go to school. Sustainable villages are ones where there are a good mix of ages and income, and that requires a good mix of available homes too.
Another challenge will be to design new homes that can meet the needs of those that can work from home.
How well do open plan homes really function when you need space to work or study? Spare bedrooms can be used, but drive price up both for buyers and renters, so most people in affordable homes simply don’t have that option. Creative design solutions will be needed, for example providing useable alcoves or wider hallways. Desire for personal outdoor space will also remain high, so how can we make sure even new homes in our busy Hampshire cities have truly useable balconies or terraces?
In 2008, following the banking crisis, the Government put a lot of support into the construction industry, much of it directed towards affordable housing. Whilst there will be many competing demands for public funding going forward, there is every reason to suppose that once again construction and home building will be used as a stimulus for the wider economy.
There are challenges ahead for affordable housing, but also real opportunities.
It’s key that local communities are proactive, and at the heart of planning and delivery of new homes to meet local needs and aspirations. Hampshire Homes Hub (part of Action Hampshire) can provide advice and support for local communities at all stages of the process. Please get in touch if you are interested in finding out more.