The new Planning Minister appointed in the recent Government reshuffle, Brandon Lewis MP, has outed himself as a fan of bungalows.
He represents Great Yarmouth, a seaside resort which I imagine is similar to Morecambe both in terms of demographics of inhabitants and the proliferation of bungalows.
Mr Lewis’ concern is that housing stock suitable for younger, growing families is not being released onto the market by older folk who no longer require or want so many rooms because there is no alternative accommodation which is attractive to down size to.
It’s a point that was made a few weeks ago by local property expert Michael Fisher of Fisher Wrathall, who was speaking at a conference about future housing needs organised by Lancaster Vision.
However, the obstacle – which Mr Fisher quite rightly pointed out – is that developers do not like building bungalows. The reason being that a one storey property uses up more land for less return than apartments and houses.
The Government have recently amended planning guidelines to make local authorities set certain number of flats or bungalows for older people, but is this enough and will it not just mean more apartments?
My own experience as a property lawyer is that Mr Lewis’ instincts are right. Older people often do want to give up larger houses for bungalows, but in the micro housing market of our district, there is probably an over supply of bungalows in Morecambe and the Villages, but not enough in South Lancaster.
Another option is inter-generational property ownership. In other words members of the same family living together in one big house divided up between them either formally or in a more relaxed manner. Such arrangements can be a very neat solution, but they do require expert legal advice so that all concerned are treated fairly and equitably.
Indeed legally transparent arrangements can also reassure other family members who are not directly involved in the sharing of living accommodation, that in the future they will not be left out in the cold.