15 May, 2020
Whilst we are in the midst of a pandemic and the country is in lockdown, everyone has been advised to stay at home wherever possible. For many, this means that they are living and working from their homes. The majority of those asked would likely list access to gardens and open spaces as being crucial to their wellbeing. Alison Inman, the former President of the Chartered Institute of Housing has written an article, published by Inside Housing, suggesting that all new homes should pass the lockdown test. The idea behind the test is to ensure that new housing stock that is being built is done so with the suitability of the property in mind whilst in a lockdown.
As the article suggests, although pandemics have been rare, there is an argument that it may not be another 100 years until the next one. It is crucial that the housing that is provided offers as many features as possible to help people cope in a situation like this.
Of course, access to outdoor space isn't the only concern that many will have. As Alison has highlighted, we need to look at the internal features of our properties. We need to ensure that properties have the ability to maintain an acceptable temperature, whether by insulating or cooling.
Communication has also been raised as crucial to helping people manage whilst staying at home. There are tenants who have no access to the Internet, this means that they cannot work from home, or teach their children. Should Internet access be a priority when providing new housing?
Space is another major factor to take into account. It is clear that a pattern has emerged of building smaller and smaller homes. Not only this, but many families are finding that several generations are living together in these properties. People are currently working in the same space that they are teaching their children, eating their meals and relaxing. For many, they do not have the luxury of an office space or even a dining area to make working from home easier for them.
The theme of the article appears to be the importance of listening. Listening to the tenants that are living in the houses and feeling the impact of not having access to a garden or space to work. Listening to those who can help us find solutions to create better homes and ensure that the existing housing is "fit for purpose".
As Alison has stated we need to be building enough homes, and they need to be affordable.
All of these are considerations that arguably should already be at the forefront of our minds when building new homes, so why has it taken a pandemic to bring them to our attention?
For more information contact Zayna Ibrahim in our Housing & Regeneration department via email or phone on 0333 207 1130. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.