Park homes could help solve the housing crisis

Written and supplied by Councillor Michael Hardware (Con), Portfolio Holder for Economic Development at Harlow District Council. 

Park homes are becoming increasingly popular, yet almost no councils make provision for them in their local plans.

This is despite them being an acceptable form of development in the countryside and outside settlement boundaries, very deliverable, sustainable and affordable.

More park homes would contribute to housing supply numbers and make a valuable contribution to addressing the housing crisis. They would also increase diversity and choice of housing options in the market and provide specialist housing for older people.

According to the House of Commons Library, there are 85,000 park homes on 2,000 licensed sites across the country.

Park homes, or mobile homes as they are also known, are modern, bungalow-style detached homes. Occupiers enjoy all the usual amenities, such as gardens, sheds and patios, as well as paying council tax.

But they are certainly different in terms of planning; in terms of the local plan process, the planning system itself, and the approach to permitted development rights.

They count towards housing supply numbers and help address housing shortages, including releasing larger family homes back on to the market as people downsize.

In addition, sites for park homes can be developed more quickly than traditional homes and so can contribute to the crisis faster. This is because they are manufactured in factories and then transported to site. Off-site construction also improves build quality and sustainability.

Although park homes are largely open for anyone to buy, they also provide an opportunity for councils to provide specialist housing for older people, which is rarely included within local plans.

The over-55s now make up the largest portion of the population but very little is being done to provide them with viable and attractive housing options which they want to move to.

This means they tend to remain in their family homes, restricting the market and reducing mobility, as those family homes are desperately needed by younger families.

Councils are missing fundamental opportunities by not including park homes in their local plans.

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