Monday, 2 December 2013

Affordable Homes.

It’s out there. Labour plan to build lot’s and lot’s of affordable homes. Loads of ‘em. Many, many affordable homes. Plenty of them. Lot’s. This really is great news – we need these ‘affordable’ homes. The more the merrier.

But here’s my problem with those vast expanses, those wide yawning vistas of so-called affordable homes. They will not be affordable. What’s worse, they’ll be substandard. They will be smaller, and shoddier, and not even that cheap.

I used to live on an estate with both private homes to buy and own, and some council houses – or social homes, as they are now styled, were located on adjacent streets. The private barret-boxes were bad enough – thin walls, three bedroom in theory but one teensy box room in reality. They were built with as little space as possible, with no cupboards and low ceilings.

I’ve never understood (and never will understand) just why it is that people in need of social houses should subsequently be deemed to need less of everything, because this is just what happened on my old estate. Why should it be that council houses, or social homes as they are now designated, must be far worse than second best. It’s true that poverty slows human growth, but the impoverished are not tiny pixies.

It didn’t use to be this way. Council houses in the post WW1 were sometimes lovely, with thick walls and high standards. Even those brutalist tower blocks which have evaded demolition have their fans. I’ve lived or stayed in some excellent examples, so I know that they can be fantastic machines to live in.

But still, why does cheaper homes for poorer people need to be so shoddy? The lower your income, the less money available for heating bills, so you’d think that insulation and sturdy walls would be universally considered to be vital. But nooooo.

Let’s remember – this also applies to ‘affordable homes’ bought by owner occupiers. But here’s the bit where the sneering of the people who design and plan houses, that is – those who permit us to live in a house. They actually waved through recent requests by some overseas investors who were building homes in London. The idea was that this development was to feature some top notch, high-end, posh homes, but also – for us povs and plebs, some affordable places. The upshot is that the homes will no be just for the posh, rich and litigious. Oh – and their will be a separate entrance for ‘affordable’ home occupiers, because well, the sight of the great unwashed will disturb and menace the others.

So when new homes are build to rent, or ‘affordable’ or intended for that first, tenuous, precarious step on the ownership ladder, and when (as in my previous post) some homes are let by 'forced' or accidental rentiers, why, why, why are these homes build for some secret mythical norm fit for people who don’t need space, spare rooms. It’s yet another example of tenants being viewed as subhuman, or lesser than owners.

A separate entrance. Really – a separate entrance. That happened.


Anonymous said...

Pity Labour didn't build lots more homes when they were in power and had the chance.

Anonymous said...

Separate entrance for the plebs?!

Thought you were making it up again RG until I saw this;

And while the scheme does at least include 70 affordable flats they will be accessed via a separate entrance tucked discreetly away around the corner to allow owners and investors ‘the exclusive use of the impressively stylish entrance lobby’.

Which does seem outrageous on the face of it. But do affordable homes (whatever that means) really need concierge service, security guards, cleaners, CCTV, marble halls, gold plated lifts etc?

If they have these things they have to be paid for, either initially or through service charges, which would make them, well.. unaffordable.

Regards, HB Welcome.

Anonymous said...

I have often thought of walking forward into first class and using the loo ,people pay for a first class rail or train ticket but do they also have exclusive rights to the loo?
There is more of a serious point being made here than you imagine !
It translates into a wider mind set it's not just about spending a penny ,Penny!

MattW said...

My parents own an ex-council house and it is very solid. It was built in 1956-57. Good sized rooms (Parker Morris standards), cupboards too - which RenterGirl will approve of!), good layout. It isn't pretty to look at but this type of house is a good base of what should be built today.

I have limited experience of newer social housing built in the last 25 years. The homes feel like they will not last as long as the post war council houses. They don't seem any worse than the private homes built of the same era to me.