Everybody I have spoken to this week is looking forward. The first signs of Spring have us looking forward to nicer weather. Children are looking forward to going back to school, or at least their parents are. People are looking forward to seeing family and friends, to having a hug and breaking bread, going back to work, maybe even having a holiday. Everyone is looking forward. With a post-covid new dawn being promised, now seems the perfect time to build for the future, for ourselves, our children and our grandchildren.
This is much bigger than simply ‘affordable’ or social housing. Although that’s a very important issue in itself, which FHfF will continue to focus on, I want to focus on the future of our environment, our planet. In many ways, nature has held our hand over this past year. Many of us have formed a new relationship with open spaces, gardens, the natural world that surrounds us and now more than ever want to embrace and protect what we may have taken for granted in the past.
It is therefore extremely disappointing to see how developers are doing the absolute bare minimum when it comes to new housing developments in Frome.
To give it some context, all tiers of government have declared a climate emergency; car manufacturers are phasing out fossil fuels; gas boilers will no longer be installed in new homes from 2025 and various bodies have set targets to be carbon neutral from 2030 onwards.
Yet housing developers seem oblivious. In one development in Frome their attitude is that if the house is insulated, their job is done. They plan to continue using gas boilers, do not provide charging points for electric vehicles nor PV panels. Essentially their ’standards’ are in line with 2013 levels, which is just not good enough by any measure.
The UK government will update building standards fully in 2025, and in the meantime are proposing interim measures which will come into effect later this year. The efficiency of the proposed houses miss these targets significantly, meaning that they will be obsolete even before the first brick is laid, forcing future homeowners to cover the considerable costs of retro-fitting the necessary improvements. Furthermore, they will continue to produce carbon for their lifespan, probably at a cost to the local councils who will have to offset this elsewhere.
In addition, while walking and cycling has become exponentially more popular over the last year the developer has failed to provide adequate walking and cycling routes to the town centre, missing an opportunity to encourage people to reduce their reliance on cars.
In summary, at a time when everyone else is looking forward, it is sad to see that these companies, which make hundreds of millions of profit every year, are unwilling to do so.
At Fair Housing for Frome we say to developers, please start building for the future now. We’re just a few years away from a time when:
- electric vehicles will be the norm
- electricity generation will no longer be reliant on fossil fuels
- people who want to walk and cycle to town centres and transport hubs will have that option.
Let’s build back better and for the future.
Steve Tanner – Development Worker – Fair Housing for Frome