Weston Homes challenge the latest Land Registry and ONS figures which highlight that the number of houses being built is now far less than the number of apartments: leading to ‘building experts’ and politicians calling for more houses to be built.
Weston Homes strongly contests these calls and highlight that they do not account for changing demographics, demand for inner city living, planning restraints and the limited amount of land existing in urban areas.
Weston Homes currently have over 2,000 homes in the pipeline: 90% of what Weston build and sell is apartments, whilst the remaining 10% are houses. Weston highlight that this reflects a demand for apartments driven by changing population needs, which affects household types, and the increased demand for low maintenance apartments due to longer working hours.
Weston Homes highlight that the need for apartments over houses in areas such as London and surrounding commuter towns is due to the rise of one and two person households. Figures from the Office of National Statistics (April 2007) show that this comprises almost 70% of the housing market.
Weston Homes stress that the demand for one and two bedroom homes is due to people choosing to live alone, living as couples and having children later in life, rising divorce rates and the gay community who often live as couples or alone and choose not to have a family.
Weston Homes highlight that, family households, containing between three and six people have declined in number and now accounting for just 34% of the housing market, compared with over 50% in 1971.
Weston Homes, is currently developing sites in Essex in three locations, Colchester, Southend-on-Sea and Basildon. In Kent, Weston is developing sites in Canterbury and Maidstone.
In Hertfordshire, the company is developing sites in St. Albans, Hitchin and Bishops Stortford. In East Sussex, a site in Mayfield and in London, sites in Docklands, Woodford Green and Wandsworth. Many of these developments will be mixed-use, both houses and apartments.
Weston Homes stresses that the changing demographics in the UK is one of the main reasons for the increase in apartments being built over houses. Findings from the Governments Office of National Statistics (April 2007) show that the population is ageing with 16% of the population (9.6 million) being aged over 65.
Average life expectancy in the UK has increased to 76 for males and 80 for women. As the population grows older there is an increasing appeal to live in an apartment, offering low maintenance and proximity to local amenities.
Robert Weston, Chairman of the Weston Group comments: “At Weston we take into account the changing living patterns, building homes in keeping with modern lifestyles and needs. As a company we specialise in the redevelopment of difficult ‘brown field sites’ within London and the adjoining Home Counties.”
Robert Weston continues: “Weston Homes believes that in built up urban areas often the only solution to ease housing problems is to build upwards. By the redevelopment of ‘brown field sites’ in and around London, Weston Homes is able to create new communities that have acces to outside space.”
Robert Weston highlights: “Where the demand exists, Weston Homes will try to provide both houses and apartments. Weston however acknowledges that as population in urban areas increases the sites suitable for building new houses are being pushed further away from town centres. The demand for new homes tends to be centered around urban locations, hence the rise in the amount of apartments being built. For those wanting a house they are having to widen the area they are looking to buy, in or to afford a house.”
Robert Weston concludes: “Another important to factor promoting the development of apartments is the environmental and planning agendas. Weston have a proven track record of developing on ‘brown field sites’, transforming old industrial sites into modern residential and mixed-use places.”
Robert Weston says: “Modern apartment schemes tend to be more environmentally friendly as they use less land than large detached houses. The government, in PPG3 planning guidance, called for the need for higher density schemes in urban areas as a direct response to the changing demographic and increased need for homes”