I am an independent planning advisor commissioned by the Sevenoaks District Council to provide recommendations for the future development of Halstead. This report will take into account not only the local issues but also the wider context of housing and development in the UK.
Halstead is located 14 miles from London within its Green Belt. It has good communications, both rail and road, and is 28 minutes away from Gatwick Airport.
Due to the current shortage of housing in the UK, there is a lot of pressure on the south east of England, especially places around London, to build housing as well as industry.
There are some factors prompting counter-urbanisation, the first example are house prices. They are usually very high (however, at the minute they are low due to the recession) in cities, especially in London, which means not many people can afford to buy houses. This means people will have to look in other places, such as the countryside, for a more affordable alternative.
Another influencing factor might be crime levels. Many people feel unsafe in cities due to the perception of high crime levels, which are possibly caused by a high density population. People may feel the solution is to move away to a place with low crime levels, such as Halstead, due to the sparse population. Halstead means: “safe place” or “place of refuge”, which will sound inviting to someone wanting to leave the danger in the cities.
Pollution, both noise and air, is a push factor prompting counter-urbanisation. Air pollution is bad for people at risk, such as: children, asthmatics and the elderly, which may force some families to move away so that they have a better quality of life. The elderly may also be looking for peace and quiet, which a city like London does not offer. A quiet environment like Halstead is an ideal place to retire.
Another reason for counter-urbanisation is that technology has improved a lot, which means family and friends can keep in touch with loved ones. Computers have become affordable for all and many people are IT literate; only 17% of people in the U.K never use computers . The development in technology means people can also now work from home or be ‘self employed’. People can now have a good, well paid job without having to commute and simultaneously have a quiet life with their family in the countryside. Of course no one wants to be cooped up in their house all the time, but this development means less commuting, which therefore means a reduction in carbon emissions.
There is a great need for houses in south east of England and by 2016; 4.4 million new homes will be needed to accommodate the rising population and changes to in the household structure. Many people are moving to the UK so that they can have a better quality of life. In many cases, people will move here because of better work opportunities, which attracts people from across the world.
Another need for more housing is that these there are many...