Bungalows for sale could ‘solve Britain’s housing crisis’
Property developers should build more bungalows to help solve Britain’s housing crisis, a Government minister has said.
Increasing the supply of bungalows would enable older people to downsize to smaller homes, freeing up larger properties for families, Brandon Lewis claimed.
Britain’s shortage of homes has been one of the key factors driving up house prices during the past year, as the supply of suitable properties has failed to keep up with demand.
Lewis, who was appointed as Minister for Housing and Planning in last month’s reshuffle, said many couples wanted to trade down to smaller properties once their children had left home, but they were reluctant to move into apartments or retirement homes.
He said the “quintessentially British bungalow” was an important part of Britain’s housing mix and developers should build more of them.
But despite the need for bungalows, there has been a sharp drop in the number of these properties being built.
Only around 2 per cent of new homes are bungalows, with just 300 of the properties built in 2009 – the latest year for which figures are available.
Lewis said his own parents-in-law showed why the country needed more bungalows.
“My in-laws are in their 70s, pretty fit, mentally really with it; they live in a normal house which they both struggle with,” he told the Daily Mail.
“They are not ready to move into what they would see as a retirement home, but where they live there is not access to bungalows.
“We should be looking to love bungalows a little bit more. They are an important part of the mix.”
Bungalows not only enable older people to downsize to a more manageable home, but they can also help them to release substantial equity in the process.
But a four bedroom house in the same area is selling for £399,950.
The Government amended planning guidelines earlier this year requiring council planners in England to set aside a certain number of flats or bungalows for older people in a bid to meet the needs of Britain’s ageing population.
But developers are thought to be reluctant to build higher numbers of bungalows, as houses are generally more profitable.
Planning rules that require developers to build at least 30 homes on every hectare of land also make bungalows unappealing to developers.
Lewis’ call echoes the findings of a report by think tank the Policy Exchange that called for the planning system to be reformed to encourage developers to build more bungalows.
The group estimated that there were 25 million unused bedrooms in the homes of older people, which it partly attributed to the fact that many homeowners could not downsize to a bungalow.