(York Plotlands Association is now defunct)
There are few (if any) examples of lifestyles in Britain which are sustainable. For example, at the new ‘sustainable’ development at Derwenthorpe, York, the carbon footprints of the residents are several times greater than the footprint necessary to avoid dangerous climate change. The York Plotlands Association promotes action and research into achieving lifestyles that are more sustainable.
Housing is much more expensive than both the cost of building, and the land it occupies. At agricultural prices, a plot of land large enough for a house and garden costs £500. Once planning permission has been granted, this can inflate to over £100,000. This increase is because planning permission is limited in supply.
Many plots with planning permission remain in land banks, until they can be developed at a premium, which leads to inflated house prices. As a result, windfall rewards are reaped by land owners and developers holding the land banks.
Traditional house building, with bricks, cement, and steel creates enormous carbon emissions – enough to overwhelm personal carbon budgets. This type of house building is also costly.
There are other methods of construction, which are very much cheaper and more sustainable. These may be off-site construction or may be self build packs like the open source, peoples’ project, the Wikihouse. This is outlined in the TED Talk, Architecture for the People by the People, by Alastair Parvin.
The York Plotlands Association is campaigning to update the model of plotland development which was (more-or-less) outlawed by the 1947 Planning Act. Instead, planning permission would not be held in land banks, but by individuals who intend to build their own home on their own plot. It is anticipated that some social organisations, such as responsible social landlords, might hold planning permission for more than one plot, but this would be carefully regulated.
Whilst the pressures to restrict development are great, there is a huge demand for cheaper housing, particularly for starter homes.
We believe that, if the cost of planning permission is avoided, simple starter homes can be provided for less than £20,000 – about a tenth of most starter homes today.
The York Plotlands Association proposes that a new fund be created to buy ‘plotland options’ on suitable sites. More details in future posting.