An overview of the demand for the new houses in Britain and study the nature of urban sprawl for both Brownfield and Greenfield sites

The hypothesis that I will be testing for this project is question 2.1 Where shall we build new homes? Inside this hypothesis, are two questions that I need to find the answers to and these are:

a) How is demand for housing growing?

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b) Should we build on Greenfield sites, or Brownfield sites?

To answer these questions, I will need to produce an overview of the demand for the new houses in Britain and study the nature of urban sprawl for both Brownfield and Greenfield sites with reasons for and against the development of such areas.

In the UK, the housing needs are not just directly dependant on the total population but also the composition of the households as the smaller the household, the more houses are required.

Below is how the population is expected to change in the future and how it has been in the past.

However, single person households may increase due to a number of factors which include:

– Increase in divorce rate

– Increase in single parent families

– Increasing tendency for young people to set up their own home rather than to stay at home

– Increase in the number of elderly and therefore more widows or widowers

– Encouragement of independent living for the elderly

The graph below shows how these factors have affected the number of single owner-occupiers living alone in England in the past.

Housing conditions are not just a matter about the number of houses. If the houses which are available are to be found in the wrong areas then the problem with housing will continue. The table below shows that it is predicted that there will be some major changes in the UK’s population in the next twenty years.

Most of the changes are related to employment opportunities and this can be seen in Merseyside where areas have suffered heavy job losses.

Another factor which heavily contributes to the housing problems is that there is sometimes a mismatch between the size and price of the houses required and those that are available. The housing supply has increased but there has been a great variation to the sizes of those built. Both the charts below show this to be the case.

Figure 4 shows that there has been a high decrease in the percentage of one bedroom houses and an increase in the percentage of homes with four bedrooms. This is even when there has been quite a large decrease in the average size of homes.

I need to determine the difference between a Brownfield site and a Greenfield site.

– Brownfield sites are abandoned, idled, or under-used properties where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by real or perceived environmental contamination. They typically are former industrial or commercial properties where operations may have resulted in environmental contamination. Brownfield sites often pose environmental, legal and financial burdens on communities. Left vacant, contaminated sites can diminish property value of surrounding sites and threaten the economic viability of adjoining properties.

– Greenfield sites are areas of land that have not been previously used. They are typically found quite a distance from the town centre but are usually cheaper to develop on than Brownfield sites. They usually bring about a high quality of life and have a lot of space. New main roads and networks are usually necessary as the distance from the town centre possesses a problem with that the roads around the site are usually too small.

To answer the question where should we build new homes? We will be looking at a Brownfield development in the south east in St. Mary’s Island. St Mary’s Island is a unique area in a large landscape. It is a major ‘Brownfield’ regeneration site on the banks of the River Medway. There is much history attached to the area. The Island was part of the former Royal Naval Dockyard, and was formed artificially following the excavation of three linked basins. St. Mary’s Island has been turned from a waste disposal area from the Chatham Docks to a luxurious area of homes for the more financially gained society. To do this, huge volumes of the radioactive soil had to first be removed which was metres deep. St. Mary’s Island is just one of the many areas of new housing developments in the South-East, which have been built to support the growing numbers of people that live in the south-east.

In 1995 John Major, the prime minister at the time wanted to introduce more housing areas in the country to meet the growing needs. The plan was given �160m to develop more houses which would cater for 4000 people. St. Mary’s island has been the property of the Historic Dockyard for a very long time but since it has been shut down, there was no need for the area to be left as it was. So it was decided to use this Brownfield site as a residential area. A company called “Seeda” was brought in to complete the residential area to help house the growing population in the South East.

The Island is separated by 3 basins which were built from huge granite blocks brought over from overseas. The largest basin was used for over 100 years as the “fitting” basin, used to repair large ships. The other two basins are now for recreational use, including a marina for mooring boats. The estuary, marshes and mudflats surrounding the island are protected under UK and International conservation laws because of the rare birds that enter the area annually. Not only are there rare birds but there are also a number of endangered plants in the area, which are also protected.

If I am to answer the question where shall we build new homes? I shall have to look at the Brownfield site of St. Mary’s Island and use key questions that relate to how suitable a new housing development should be. These key questions will have to be answered using my geographical knowledge and using techniques to find these answers. Here are the key questions that I will be using in my project:

Key Question 1- Is the accessibility adequate for St. Mary’s Island?

Key Question 2- Is the quality of life suitable for the new community?

Key Question 3- Are there enough recreational activities for all ages and in good supply?

Key Question 4- Is the housing on St. Mary’s Island appropriate?

Now I think it is important to have predictions to what I think each key question will give me. For key question 1 I believe that I will find quite good accessibility on the island. However, I do not think it will be excellent because what I fell may have happened is that the building of the houses has taken such a priority that the accessibility may not have been thought out as well as it should have. For example, I think that there may be a lack of parking facilities and there may be a lot of cars parked on the roads especially in closes.

For key question 2, I would expect to find a high quality of life. This is because as it is a newly developed area, everything should be brand new and the area should look very presentable. The only factor which I believe stops the island from having an excellent quality of life is the fact that there is still building taking place on the island and so the noise and visual pollution may affect the quality of life.

For key question 3, I believe that there will be some very good recreational areas on the island because the development of the houses has been for families with children. For this reason, I feel that there will have been recreational areas used on the island and I feel that this will be suited for all ages.

For key question 4, I think that the housing on the island will be very appropriate. I think this because many of the houses were bought very quickly and if this hadn’t have been the case, then further development on the island would not have been carried out. I also think that the houses will be well laid out and the space will have been used to great effect.

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