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News: An Englishmans home is his caravan

Thu, 08 Nov 07

Road builders - not house builders - are blighting the English countryside, according to a new survey by Propertyfinders...

Contrary to claims house building is eating up rural England, the research shows roads take up more than twice as much of the country as domestic buildings. 2.4% of England – roughly a fortieth of the entire country - is concreted over for the benefit of motorists.

Across the country cars gets 2.2x as much space to enjoy as we do in our own homes, which take up a mere 1.1% of England’s land. Shockingly, these figures exclude land given over to car parks. On average, 11% of the land space in towns and cities is devoted to cars and trains – only 1.8x more land than homes.

Using government data Propertyfinder.com has examined the relationships between land use and domestic property prices. The research reveals consequences for areas that are sympathetic to the transport lobby at the expense of ordinary residents. A strong link exists between areas with dense transport networks - and lower house prices.

Central London ‘bucks the trend’

Liverpool devotes 17.3% of its space to roads and railways - the highest proportion of any city outside London. But Liverpudlians suffer the fourth lowest house prices of the major English cities. By the same token, Hull has the lowest house prices and the fifth most road and rail space.

Leeds, by contrast, has the second highest house prices of major urban areas outside London, and the second least dense transport networks.

Central London bucks the trend. On average, an astonishing 20.4% of the land area of central London belongs to trains and cars (90% of this is road space). But in the capital, the more space that is given over to transport; the higher house prices. Greater London is in line with other urban areas around the country.

The research suggests developers and the government need to increase the use of brownfield sites within urban areas. Despite the fact that two thirds of new homes are now built on previously used land - compared to just half in 1994 – there remains one third being built in green spaces. Existing roads already serve brownfield land, so homes can be built without sacrificing more space to the motor car. Better public transport networks in urban areas also help encourage fewer car journeys.

Taxpayers foot the bill

Nick Leeming, Key Accounts Director of propertyfinder.com said: ‘For every new home built on a greenfield site, twice as much space needs to be devoted to new roads. Not only does the taxpayer have to foot the bill for more road maintenance, building new roads encourages greater car use.

Building on brownfield sites is the best way to preserve England’s green and pleasant land for future generations. An Englishman’s home used to be his castle; if we continue to expand the road network, an Englishman’s home might as well be his caravan.'

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