August Market View

East Anglian Daily Times

Property Supplement Market View
By James Hopkins
Executive Chairman of Hopkins Homes
With the forthcoming Bank Holiday the local papers and magazines are full of events to entice us out and about; Eye Show, Snape Proms, Walsham le Willows Open Gardens, Aylsham Show and the Beer by the Pier festival in Felixstowe being just a few – all of which prompts images of families and communities coming together and enjoying some (hopefully!) late summer sunshine.
Recent events however have suggested that in some places the concept of community or society is totally alien and that is something that should worry us all.
I think it is the case that ‘where’ people live can influence ‘how’ people live and that neighbourly developments encourage neighbourly behaviour.
We have a duty as property developers, as do our planning authorities, to create sustainable developments that benefit both occupiers and local communities. Unfortunately, in some cases the lack of land released for development and the resultant strive for ever higher density has resulted in some spectacularly ugly estates that do not blend with their surroundings, where residents live cheek by jowl often without access to outdoor space and where no consideration has been given to quite basic needs such as access to public transport and local amenities and facilities.
In turn this can help to create divisive neighbourhoods, where the ‘incomers’ struggle to integrate and the indigenous community turning inwards, forever widening the breach between old and new.
However, none of this addresses the acute housing shortage that exists within East Anglia and it seems to me that the towns and villages need to be allowed to grow in accordance with the needs of the people; people moving from other areas, people that want to buy their first home, move into a larger home as families grow or downsize to a smaller property as their needs change but who do not want to have to move away from the region, their wider family and friends – in other words, their neighbourhood and community.
On another note, there was a flurry of press articles following recently published official projections from the Office of National Statistics (June 2011) that life expectancy continues to rise and, in some parts of the country, to unimaginable levels. Now this was particularly interesting to me because, according to an article I read in The Telegraph, the area pinpointed as having the highest life expectancy in England and Wales was Moreton Hall on the outskirts of Bury St Edmunds with some estimates suggesting that the life expectancy for girls could be as high as 128!
When asked for their reaction to the study, it was the strong community spirit, the spacious environment, the quality of life and the almost unheard of crime levels that were all given as contributing factors by local residents.
Now this may be purely coincidental, but our award winning Drovers Mead development formed a prestigious part of the Moreton Hall project…
Which neatly takes us back to the ‘where’ and ‘how’.