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Reluctance of planners
11:35am Thursday 28th June 2012 in Letters
Sir – Justine Garbutt (Letters, June 21) raises the point that the need for new housing is mainly for ‘small homes and extra care units’ for the over-65s. In fact, taking the country as a whole, there will be about five million one- and two-person households looking to downsize.
She goes on to say that ‘creative solutions’ are needed.
While this applies to accommodating households of all sizes and ages, the lack of attractive alternatives for small and more elderly households to move to is a prime reason for the unsustainable level of under-occupation across the county.
In North America and Europe there are many examples of co-housing and the Homes for Wales: A White Paper for Better Lives and Communities currently out on consultation sees co-operative housing as forming a substantial part of new residential developments for sound social, economic and environmental reasons. Actually many of the reasons that make this form of housing a form of ‘sustainable development’ for which there is a favourable presumption in national planning advice. Indeed, housing models which are less sustainable should be resisted.
The Sites and Housing Development Plan will shortly be examined at a public inquiry and the current position of the Oxford city planners is that co-housing is not something requiring their support.
The case for co-housing being put at the inquiry will be that this ‘creative solution’ will not take place in Oxford without the active support of planning policy and city planners and councillors (the same applies to the other districts). To date, this has been the experience of the Oxford Co-housing Group.
Given the benefits of low carbon construction and living, reduced car use, and the care of the elderly, children, the sick and disabled, it is difficult to understand the reluctance of planners to plan for this alternative.
Daniel Scharf, Tutor in town and country planning, Oxford University Department of Continuing Education