Building more communities in Cornwall rather than “unattractive housing estates” could help ease the housing crisis, according to a former Cornwall MP.
Matthew Taylor, now Lord Taylor of Goss Moor, was previously the Liberal Democrat MP for St Austell and Truro, and campaigned for more support to solve Cornwall’s housing problems for decades.
The current crisis leaving people unable to find homes to rent or buy has brought to the fore what has always been a pressing issue in Cornwall.
With the growing number of people looking to relocate to Cornwall thanks to people realizing how easily they can work from home and with the number of properties being bought and used as second homes and vacations, many have described it as a “storm perfect “which left the local population unable to find suitable accommodation.
Lord Taylor, a lifetime peer, has worked for years with different governments to help reform planning policy as well as develop neighborhood planning policy and garden communities. He was also president of the National Housing Federation.
He said: “It is nothing new that there is a serious housing shortage in Cornwall and as a result house prices are well above local wages. We also have people coming to Cornwall looking for accommodation in other parts of the country, although we know a lot of people coming into the county are returnees, not all of them, but some are.
“When I was an MP in 2008 we saw house prices peak at that time before the crash, we had some of the highest house price multiples (relative to income) in the country. But we have never seen anything more remarkable than the last 18 months where the market has gone completely crazy as people realize that living in the city has been a nightmare during the coronavirus and made them re-evaluate and to want to move to the coast and the country. It made matters worse. It’s a perfect storm in many ways.
Having been involved in housing both in Cornwall and nationally, what would the Cornish politician do to deal with the crisis?
“I have always believed that there were two fundamental elements in the answer,” he explained.
“The first is to build more houses. It’s not just people moving to Cornwall, we had the second big baby boom and seniors are living much, much longer in their own homes.
“Most of the people buying homes in Cornwall will be local, but the number over 65 doubled between 2010 and 2050 and when that is combined with the baby boom, it’s obvious you’ll have a problem.
“The question is how do you build the new houses, most of my work has been on sustainability – they have to be really well designed and should be built as communities and not as unattractive subdivisions.
“We have some good examples in Cornwall – Nansledan (in Newquay), where you see some really nice houses, but you also have shops, squares, a school and other services alongside them.
“And there is West Carclaze Garden Village (in St Austell) which is starting to come out of the ground with houses of a different style but of very high quality and which will provide fantastic opportunities for people to have a good lifestyle. The majority of the dwellings there will be reserved for the local population.
New homes under construction as part of the first phase of West Carclaze Garden Village near St Austell (Image: Richard Whitehouse / LDRS)
West Carclaze Garden Village was also designed to provide facilities such as schools, shops and other services at the same time the houses are built rather than being provided afterwards to ensure that the people who live there will have access to the services they need when they move in. .
Lord Taylor said: “These are new communities that are being created that do not ruin the historic communities around Cornwall with often poor quality subdivisions – this is the best way to do it. There are opportunities to do it really well.
“If you go to Nansledan, if you haven’t been there I advise you to take the tour, it will be 4,500 homes over time, which is a considerable number, but it is in a sustainable community, there already has a school and businesses, things that people need in a very, very attractive form.
“We will see at West Carclaze that the people who live there will have access to the most amazing scenery and countryside and all the facilities they need – they won’t need to drive to access these local services,” they will be provided in this community.
“I hate government housing targets because they lead to the worst kind of real estate style development that is deeply unattractive.”
He added: “My mantra has always been that we shouldn’t be building houses, we should be building communities – there is nothing more unattractive than a housing estate with no pubs, shops or facilities where people have to. drive.
“We have built communities in this country for centuries and there is no reason we cannot do it now.”
The second element that Lord Taylor said is necessary to help alleviate the housing crisis is to protect homes in communities so that they can be used as primary residences.
“The second part is that there is no point in building a lot more houses if, faster than you can build, the houses are turned into second homes that were first houses. This is particularly a problem in the seaside villages – we have something that has been inhabited for 200 years and is now turned into a vacation rental and not available to the local community.
“This is particularly a problem in seaside communities, because you cannot build new houses there to replace the ones that have been lost, because you would destroy areas of outstanding natural beauty that we must protect.
“Any change in the use of a house must be subject to a building permit so that people cannot simply take a house that families have lived in for hundreds of years and turn it into a second home. These attempts to do so should be refused.
Lord Taylor of Goss Moor
“It would be a much more effective constraint than suggesting that you simply increase the housing tax for second homes. The kind of people who can afford a vacation home for cash can afford any increase in the housing tax, that would not prevent the homes from being used as second or vacation homes.
“I also think that if you tax them it would tax the existing vacation homes which are operated as businesses and which are part of our tourism offering. It is better to have other controls to prevent more homes from being turned into second homes or vacation rentals.
By building houses as part of the communities, Lord Taylor says this will also help provide affordable housing for the local population – building on a larger scale will ensure that more affordable housing can be provided.
“If you put them together you can meet local needs and provide affordable housing and you can reduce the pressure on housing in Cornwall. ”