Housing in Britain is a major issue, and for good reason! For the typical Brit, the
expression "An Englishman's home is his castle" is still true. Most people aspire to owning
a three or four bedroom detached house, with garage and garden, in a rural area. This ideal
causes a problem: Britain is the most densely populated country in Europe, yet our cities have
the lowest population density (there are few tower blocks). Everyone wants their land, but there
is no longer space for everyone to have a garden.
This year, our government will release three or four policy documents that will determine how
and where the British live for at least a generation to come. There are two opposing groups that
have been trying to influence government policy. These are the "sprawlers" and the "crammers".
The Sprawers represent the building industry. They want to build ever more housing on so called
"green sites" (areas not previously built on). The Crammers, by contract, represent the
environmental groups and want new housing to be built on reused land, the so called "brown sites"
(previously industrial sites). So far, the crammers are winning the debate.
However, future housing requirements are not the whole story. In today's Britain, there are some
major housing problems. Typically, the cost of a house follows the great "north-south divide" (rich
people in the south, poor people in the north). In my area (Crawley), a three bedroom mid-terrace
house will typically sell for about L90000+. In the north, the same house would be worth about
L40000. That is a big price difference, especially when you consider that wages between the two
regions do not vary by as much for any given job type.
So how do the British live at the moment? Well, they typical family house is a two or three bedroom terraced house. A Terrace is a collection of identical (attached) houses built into a single row / line. Each house will typically have a small garden at the front and a larger garden at the back. The British do not like flats, and so our cities tend to be rather "flat". Recently, house builders have been constructing housing estates which are comprises of a number of "crescents". Each crescent is a small, curved road, with an opening only at one end. The houses in these crescents tend to be detached houses, with garages and larger gardens. Personally, I do not like them. They are, in my humble opinion, soulless and a waste of good building land.
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