New Homes

As much as I am motivated by the topics of planning and architecture, there is nothing that gets me more riled than the subject of population growth and its impact on housing supply.

It is hard to pinpoint the positives of a growing population; whether that growth is locally, regionally or nationally. In a developed country like ours, a growing population is not a symptom of a problem as it is in parts of Africa – but it can be a real problem in itself.

When it comes to housing locally, the solution appears to be simply to build as many homes as is humanly possible in locations that might well be put to much better use. Toad’s Hole Hole Valley, on the way out of Hove, is one such spot but any green area could be up for grabs ultimately. Brighton & Hove City Council is, after all, making plans for another 11,000 homes.

There is often an argument against new homes concerning infrastructure. There won’t be the schools, hospitals and roads. I agree but I would just say build each of these things. My concern is that an increasing population is unsustainable but also that what has been built in recent years (presumably to house as many people as possible as cheaply as possible), has been dreadful – and what is planned will be worse.

It is sad that people fear new buildings and, on the whole, would always choose green spaces over them. It doesn’t have to be like this. I can’t imagine ever campaigning for Brunswick Square or Terrace to be knocked down to be fields again. But think of some of the less imaginative buildings in the suburbs around Brighton & Hove. There was clearly huge pressure for housing after the Second World War which led to the construction of homes that I would, to be perfectly honest, happily replace with grass.

I am keen to see a surge in how much is built locally but am quite specific about what it should be. I’d much rather see converted houses turned back into what they were designed to be – proper family homes. Alongside this, I would be fascinated to see a return to the construction of purpose-built blocks of flats of a type not seen since the 1930s.

Blocks like Wick Hall, Furze Croft, Courtney Gate, 4 Grand Avenue and Embassy Court attract huge premiums after all.