News: Narrow-minded Nimby nonsense

Wed, 26 Sep 07

Research from Propertyfinder.com reveals that 61% of people believe more affordable housing is needed for key workers - as long as it’s not built near them...

The latest Propertyfinder.com survey looked at public attitudes towards the planning process and new residential developments and found that, in principle, most people backed the idea of new housing to address supply problems.

When it came to their own area however, only 39.1% wanted more housing built. The findings come as it was announced last week that buying a home is out of reach for key public sector workers in more than two thirds of UK towns.

People were also hostile to new high density developments. They had a strong preference for building houses rather than flats. Only 8.6% of people supported converting a nearby house into flats, while a mere 11.3% favoured a new block of flats. Over three-quarters of people (77.6%) were open to a planning application for a single new dwelling close by however.

Warren Bright, Chief Executive officer of Propertyfinder.com commented:

“It seems the Not-In-My-Back-Yard mentality is alive and well in the UK. While most people are sympathetic about the struggle facing would-be first time buyers and workers such as nurses, they are opposed to particular new developments in their area. While we undoubtedly need more family houses, smaller more affordable homes are also essential to help those trying to get onto the first rung of the property ladder.”

Planning and environmental concerns

The planning process itself also received a lot of criticism. An overwhelming number of people who had been involved in a planning application found it overcomplicated, hard to understand, and involving too much red tape. 67.9% of people said the process takes too long, and only half felt that enough consideration was given to local objections.

Environmental concerns were a significant factor for many people. 75.3% were against using local green space for residential projects. There was also a clear preference for any new developments to be inconspicuous and in keeping with other properties in the area. Only one in ten people wanted “different and eye-catching” new residential developments, and mock period-style architecture was most favoured.

Respondents also offered their views on the impact of new residents, which goes some way to explaining people’s resistance to new developments. Traffic was a key objection. Almost three-quarters of people feared an influx of new cars would mean a lack of parking, as well as more congestion. The extra noise caused by potential new residents was a concern for 53.9% of people, but they were also worried about the ability of local services to cope with an increase in population.

Research results

Table 1: NIMBY Moans and Groans

Key objections to new local developments

1. Threat to local green space


2. Congestion/lack of parking


3. Noise


4. Pressure on local services such as schools and GPs


  Table 2: Preferences for development in local area


Public opinion towards types of development locally

(most popular to least)

1. Converting a house back from flats to a single dwelling

2. Converting local landmarks such as warehouses for residential purposes to preserve the building

3. New single dwellings to replace existing ones

4. Replacing property nearby with a new block of flats

5. Converting a nearby house into multiple flats

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