Homes could be built over car parks and sold for as little as £120,000, under a radical new construction idea.
Bill Dunster, Principal, ZEDfactory, outlined the idea at the “Climbing the Ladder” seminar at the Develop Croydon Conference.
His company wants to develop the one-bedroom homes above existing bays in car parks and they would be zero carbon, fully-mortgageable and sold for around £120,000.
They would be particularly appealing to young people after a conference survey revealed that 88 per cent of Croydon youths, aged 15-19, would rather buy than rent but only 74 per cent believed it would be possible.
“If you can design them to go above existing car parks and roads which are owned by the local authority, it’s possible to provide a great number of affordable homes,” Dunster said.
“There’s a lot of unhappy place-making in the hinterland around the centre of Croydon, they can suddenly become mixed-use, much more vital, 24-hour places.”
Croydon, with its great transport links, could become less reliant on the car, he said, so parking bays for residents of the new homes would be less of an issue.
The idea was well supported by fellow-panellists including Croydon Councillor Paul Scott, Cabinet member for Environment, Transport and Regeneration, who described the idea as “interesting” and “sensible,” supporting the need to move past the “car is king” notion.
Cllr Scott said he believed the solution to the housing crisis was to build more homes, that supply and demand was a key aspect, and that 48,000 homes were to be built in Croydon over the next 20 years, half of them in suburban areas. He added: “We have very ambitious targets in terms of affordable homes and around 2,000 homes in Central Croydon will be affordable.”
The contentious issue of what affordability actually means was discussed and Bunmi Atta, Construction Director, Optivo, highlighted how her company was helping people “who find getting onto the ladder extremely difficult” including those who work but weren’t able to approach the private housing market. Schemes such as shared ownership (25% purchase and the rest for rent) and affordable rent (around 80% of market rent) were available.
With one in eight people in Croydon now over the age of 65, the housing discussion turned to how they could be supported.
Irene Craik, Director, Levitt Bernstein, said older people were open to different forms of accommodation but the “key difference in older people’s homes was accessibility and flexibility so people can stay in their homes as they age”.
She added: “A sense of community is important because of isolation, we need a community where people can get to know their neighbours, focusing on space outside not just the space itself.”
Martin Brown, Development Director, McCarthy and Stone, said his firm looked at thousands of sites each week and few are suitable for older people’s accommodation.
“A lot of what we are touching on is giving people a housing choice, be it care or part of a community and banishing isolation in areas that are accessible to amenities and shops,” he added.