1,000 homes: Breathing space should be used to provide more services, says Observer

If 1,000 new homes were being built in your town, what would you want done first?

Would you:

1. Plump to build the houses and hope the services, such as schools, doctors, hospitals, roads etc will follow along all in good time?


2. Would you say, let’s get those services in place, ready for the new residents?

The commonsense answer is, of course, No 2, writes our independent columnist, Observer.

However, we all know the answer we will get is No 1.

1,000 homes at Ridgewood

There’s still time for the authorities to get things sorted before the full impact of the 1,000 new homes at Ridgewood Farm is felt.

Projections – a best guess, I suppose – from Wealden District Council show it expects only the first 50 new homes on the site by 2018/19.

Tackle the issues now

The NHS has time to tackle the pressures that will come on already busy GP surgeries; the county council can get building so there are enough places at the community college; maybe the highways authorities can come up with some solutions to the town’s undoubted traffic problems.

Things may be going on behind the scenes. However, action is needed now – not ten years down the line when the problems will be all too real.

People will say, what about the cost?

At the moment, the system is that the builder pays a “roof tax” as homes are completed. The money is put in a pot to provide the infrastructure – that’s anything from play equipment to the remodelling of the High Street that went on this year.

Borrow the money

However, by the time the money has built up the problems are upon us.

Interest rates remain at rock bottom. It would not cost the authorities much to borrow money to get this much-needed infrastructure on the way before the houses are built. The rate of interest for a council will be less than you and I are paying for our mortgages so it would seem to be to be a good deal.

Blue-sky thinking

Will it happen? Sadly, I don’t think this country is able to think along those lines. As they said at management school: think ouside the box; let’s have blue-sky thinking.

The UK attitude is: It was always done this way, so it will always be done this way in future.

Perhaps there is some petty-fogging financial regulation preventing such action; no doubt imposed by Whitehall which seems to have developed a taste for micro-managing the country from central London.

See also:

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En-suite rooms available for new residents at Darwin House, Crowborough

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