I walked my dog around the local woods during the Easter bank holiday with my family when I came across a new development of houses. Brilliant, I thought; finally, we are helping ease the demand for housing and hopefully encouraging people of my generation to buy houses. But then it dawned on me; where are the new schools, police stations, and GP practices? We are being told time and time again how stretched these resources are, and we are encouraging people to move out of the well-funded city centres into suburban populations that do not have the infrastructure to cope with a mass influx of new residents. That is believe in reforming how we look at housing developments. Instead of looking at the raw number of houses, we can build; we should be looking at the number of people a community can sustain.
According to the health careers website, each GP practice should aim to serve 1800 per working GP. However, if we look at the Nuffield trust’s data, it can be seen that this target is missed across the country, and yet we are encouraging people to buy houses in woefully underequipped areas. Sustainable housing is not just about building as many homes as humanly possible or allowed by the local government; it is about ensuring that the quality-of-life experience is not impacted. Local, existing residents should not be disadvantaged for my generation to buy new housing. Instead, they should continue to expect the same level of services they currently do
I would suggest looking for a policy that actively supports this notion; with every housing estate built, there should also be an analysis for school places and access to GPs for emergency room waiting times. This is not about pushing more funding into these services but instead about making sure this funding is allocated to the right places. For example, despite there being eighteen new housing estates in the past ten years, there have been no new schools in my local area, and school places are being pushed to their absolute limits. I would suggest, in places such as schools or GP practices, placing a hard limit on the number of students or areas that have been taken, and once that limit has been reached, stopping the development of new houses until a new GP’s, bus route or school has been built. This is the role of the government, allowing businesses to thrive and keeping sure its citizens are safe and have a high quality of life.
No one can deny that there is a housing crisis. I, for one, am terrified of the possibility of not being able to afford to buy a house by the age of forty. However, what I am more scared of is not having the ability to send my children to a school less than a forty-minute drive away, not getting the doctor’s appointment that is so desperately needed, or not having access to the fire brigade when my house is burning down. Housing is the basis for a sustainable future, but it is not the end. We need to support policies that support sustainable housing developments rather than the rapid turnover of housing for profit.