Sunday, 15 September 2013

Park Site Homes Part 2 - The Solution - A New Peabody Trust?

Our policy piece of yesterday on trailer parks (let's call a spade a spade) in the UK left some readers hungering for more detail than just a moratorium on new "parks" and a timeline for elimination of the practice.

Here we shall elucidate one way in which this might be achieved. It might be useful though for us to pin our colours to the mast first by saying that we regard the Prince of Wales' Poundbury initiative (pictured below) in Dorset as the most significant town planning model worth emulating since World War Two. With that declaration followers can get the idea of where we are going on Park Site Homes and urban planning in general.

So far Poundbury has only been greenfields development but we see no reason why its principles cannot be applied to Park Home sites or indeed the vast tracts of mouldering post-WW2 developments by councils that blight the country. 

The key issues with Park Site Homes "resolution" are control and ownership. The 2,000 "parks" (or British favelas) do not have all the same legal basis or management structure. However, a policy aimed at resolving this problem needs to be national. Local government has shown that it not only cannot deal with the issue but that it actually was hand-in-glove with Park Home site administrators/developers in causing the issue.  

Here is the genesis of a policy:

  • As a first step, giving the residents control over the entirety of their destiny by instituting a body corporate over their park would be the first step. Removing "park" operators as stake-holders. 

  • Establish a Resolution Trust for the conversion of the parks into solid housing on a non-profit basis, for the sake of the argument we shall call it the "New Peabody Trust". 
  • Residents could vote out current administrators and appoint the Trust as site managers/developers
  • The Trust's sole goal would be the conversion of the "parks" into medium and high-density housing for the over-60s within the stipulated time frame ending in 2025.  
So if a typical "park" has 60 trailers (we refuse to call them residences) then the goal would be to potentially increase the number of units in a redevelopment by 50-100%. While this sounds very dense it would be only  be the equivalent of making single-storey trailers into two-storey (or more). The main caveat would be accessibility, the prime consideration with the elderly. 

It would work by the Trust constructing a first structure on a "park" site and moving residents into it (they would exchange the titles of their existing units for the new apartments), then the trailers of the newly-housed inhabitants would be cleared off the site and subsequent structures erected, until all existing residents had been housed. The income from selling the extra 50-100% of units would cover the cost of having upgraded the existing residents' accommodation. Thus housing for 120 residents (at two per unit) in sub-standard Park Home units would become housing for 180 to 240 residents in residences that were "up to code", durable and fit for purpose. 

The whole process could be kick-started by a credit line of several hundred million pounds from the government. Before anyone baulks at this we might note the amount involved is not that different from the Help-To-Buy scheme.  

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