Just 4.73% of Ashford is Built On…. A House-Building Dilemma or Not?

 

Well the fallout from the recent Budget continues: During a chat the other day with a couple of Ashford’s movers and shakers, one said, “There isn’t enough land to build all of the 300,000 houses Philip Hammond wants to build each year” and if you read the likes of the Daily Mail, you would be forgiven for thinking the UK was at bursting point … or is it?

Since the Cold War the Superpowers have used satellites to take pictures of each other for decades, but now satellites and their high-resolution cameras are being used for far more peaceful purposes. The European Environment Agency (EEA) have been taking high definition pictures of the UK to give a precise picture of what every corner of the country really looks like … and the findings may come as a surprise!

As my blog readers know, I always like to ask the important questions relating to the Ashford property market. If you are an Ashford landlord or Ashford homeowner, this knowledge will enable you to make a more considered opinion on your direction and future in the Ashford property market.

Like every aspect of economic life, supply and demand is key and, over the last twenty or so years, there has been an imbalance in the British (and Ashford) housing market, with demand far outstripping supply, meaning the average value of a property in Ashford has risen by 353.42%, taking the average value from £61,400 in 1995 to £278,400 today.

Using the information from the EEA and data-crunched by Sheffield University with their Corine-Land Cover project, I posed them a few questions about the local area – with some very interesting answers that I would like to share with you …

1. What proportion of the Ashford area is built on?

4.73% – That surprised you, didn’t it! In the study, land classified as ‘urban fabric’ has between 50% and 100% of the land surface built on, (meaning up to a half might be gardens or small parks, but the majority is built on).

2. How much Ashford land is intensively developed?

Of that 4.73% above, Less than 0.1% of it is high-density urban fabric (i.e. where 80% to 100% is built on – still leaving at least 20% for gardens) – again I bet that number has surprised you!

3. So how is the remaining land used in the Ashford area?

Woodland 9.79%
Pasture 35.97%
Arable Farmland 46.96%

…the other 2.5% being made up of various other minor categories such as sports facilities, industrial units and road/rail networks, etc.

 

Ashford and the surrounding areas are clearly far greener than one might initially think – In fact, I read recently that property covers less of the UK than the land revealed when the tide goes out! The assumption that vast tracts of our local area have been concreted over just doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. However, housing developments’ impact does undoubtedly spread beyond their physical footprint, in terms of noise, pollution and roads etc.

Now I am not suggesting for one moment we build on every inch of the county, but the bottom line is we, as a population, are growing at a much quicker rate than we are building new homes. I appreciate the emotional effect of housing is greater than other land use types because most of us spend the vast majority of our time surrounded by it. As Brits, we live our lives driving along roads, walking on pavements and working and living in buildings meaning we tend, as a result, to considerably overestimate how much of it there is.

Ashford people and the local authorities are going to have to put their weight behind building more homes for people to live in. There is going to have to be give and take on both sides, otherwise house prices will continue to rise in the future and Ashford’s youngsters won’t be able to afford their own home, resulting in Ashford rents and the demand for private rented accommodation in Ashford to also grow exponentially.