The Housing Minister, Grant Shapps, was on the radio on the way into work this morning. His new initiative is basically to have a pop at large-scale developers for the paucity of imagination and flair in the design of their new estates – a sentiment that I and I’m sure many other self-builders would completely agree with. He twice referred to them as ‘legoland’ developments which seemed a bit harsh, but it’s difficult to disagree with the wider point.
The peerless Radio 5 breakfast co-host, Shelagh Fogerty, brought up self-building as a way to build better houses. So refreshing to hear it being talked about as a mainstream thing. Shapps agreed and referred to the working party (of which I am a part – first meeting next week!) that is working to make life easier for self-builders to get started. He then made a slightly weird reference to self-built homes being difficult to insure (“but I don’t know why”) which is, unfortunately, total nonsense. There then followed some old guff about the localism bill enabling local people to ensure the design of their new housing estates is of high quality, and the interview finished.
In two minutes, it summed up the current situation with the Government. On the one hand, lots of promising noises and positive signs, and the promotion of self-build as a mainstream housing option. On the other, a series of slightly misguided statements and initiatives, none of which appear to help our cause.