The need for new homes in a Nation with significant levels of homelessness is widely accepted and understood. It reflects the low levels of house building over several decades and various demographic changes to family make up which means that for some families, two smaller homes are needed where previously one larger one would have been the ideal. The politics around housebuilding are complex, relating to land prices, house price inflation, labour availability and of course the concern that many have to retain their views and adjacent green space. Often these latter issues seem in direct conflict within the same families as a desire for building to be somewhere else, is at odds with the need for affordable housing for younger family members. Also part of this chaotic mix which is stirred regularly by certain Politicians with an apparent axe to grind, is the issue of environmental sustainability. The opposition to housebuilding is sometimes as a result of concerns about the impact on the environment and this is particularly important in cases where the homes being planned could be built in locations which would cause much less pressure on the wider environment. This is why so much focus is brought to bear on the value of building on brownfield land.
Irrespective of the nature of the debate surrounding the location and size of the housing that is needed, once a decision is taken to build homes, it is vital that the homes are as environmentally sustainable as possible. At one time discussions about the need for zero carbon homes were aired in newspaper articles and in debates about building. All modern homes are built to environmental standards that would have been unheard of in the period when homes for hero’s were being built in the years after the two World Wars. However no sooner has a standard been achieved, and science enables more ambitious targets to be set. It is very encouraging to read that a recent piece of research has been carried out to suggest that the best environmental standards need not cost any more to implement than if the home was built to lower standards, or the cost is only marginally higher. Some building takes place to lower standards, and this is sometimes explained as being the price for increasing the number of houses at a time of austerity. It is clear from this report that such compromises are not necessary and local residents and Councillors need to press for the best standards as we build for a new generation.