A Booming Population
The population, in the UK and elsewhere, is growing. By whatever agency, be it net immigration, the understandable desire of people to hang around and watch the sun come up again more often than their antecedents did, or else a swelling of numbers by the most traditional method of all, the fact remains that there are more of us needing to keep more roofs over our heads.
One obvious answer to this problem is to give a green light to the developers to get cracking on expanding their property portfolios. There is no ignoring the fact that for a long time now the green spaces on the map are slowly turning the grey and brown of concrete and brick. And those harder colours and surfaces are not to the liking of everyone. And that substantial chunk of everyone who would resist this trend are not, while less than an immovable object, without influence. The Green Belt has its friends.
Brownfield redevelopment for the provision of private dwellings would seem to offer an alternative to this erosion of countryside, with the added advantage of placing their occupants closer to their place of work and to the many other facilities which are only supportable where population density is sufficiently great. For all its advantages, however, this kind of development is more expensive because of preliminary demolition and the costly removal of often hazardous materials used in construction during less risk-aware and risk-averse times.
So the increase of housing stock for the country as a whole has been a battle on many fronts, with numbers gradually increasing. New houses and purpose-built flats add new landmarks for the commuter, and apartment blocks and divided older houses in towns give local shops hope for increased trade.
We huddle ever closer, elbows tucked in and our mercenary muscle twitching as it wonders what the new masonry will do to the value of our own castle.
But whatever kinds of dwellings are constructed and where they are situated, one trend seems to apply in all cases and that relates to the small number of cats you can swing inside even the largest of the rooms. Stories abound in the media of the incredible shrinking homes. Whether market forces ever allow this trend to reverse is unlikely and so it seems that more and more we will have to pull our tummies in, look for a slightly smaller sofa, look over our shoulders before backing away from the oven door that just released that volcanic cloud of steam, limit the amount of protein we feed our children in the hope that smaller beds will allow us to pretend the bedrooms are bigger than the tape measure says they are.
And, of course, for this new squeezed nation, a general saving of, and more intelligent use of, space. For instance, we all need a computer and, though we were told years ago that our lives would become paperless one day, that day is still a tomorrow. Today’s all-in-one printers are designed by firms who know we need to have a copy of that emailed argument with the Water board about the bill, realize we will want to scan and then copy little Johnnie’s first drawing to give to his Gran and a couple of the latest snaps of the kids at the beach to put in an envelope for great aunt Betty. But most importantly, they take up about as much room in our increasingly bijou homes as a largish shoebox.