The bungalow is a building that has represented a more leisurely, gentler way of life since
the early 1900’s. Bungalows have been sold as an aspiration for those about to retire, saving
them the annoyance of having to climb stairs. With an ageing population, one would think
they would be building more bungalows, yet nothing could be further from the truth. In fact,
this could be one of the main issues that is holding back many mature homeowners moving
home, thus creating a bottleneck in the Erdington property market for the younger families
who are being held back and unable to move into the larger homes they so need to grow
So, before I answer that question, let me share this fascinating fact about bungalows. The
word ‘bungalow’ originated in India, not the UK. The name is derived from the Hindi word
‘baṅglā’ or the Gujarati word ‘baṅglo’, both of which seem to refer to a home occupied by a
Bengali person. The colonial English started to use it for themselves in the late 1600s to
describe the same sort of basic lodgings that sailors and staff of the invading East India
Anyway, back to the here and now in Erdington.
There are 646 Bungalows in Erdington.
When you consider there are 30,582 properties in Erdington, that
means only 2.1% of property in Erdington are bungalows.
To give you an idea of the age demographic of Erdington homeowners, there are 6,658
Erdington homeowners aged 65 years old (and over) and 7,867 Erdington homeowners aged
between 50 and 64 years of age.
You can see demand for bungalows is only expected to grow. Yet new homes builders are
having to deal with soaring land prices meaning to get a profit from the site, they are under
pressure to build more vertically than horizontally as with bungalows (as bungalows take up
so much more land).
The last available data is from 2018 and only 1.6% new builds in the UK were bungalows,
interesting when it was just over 7% in the middle of the 1990s. As British people are living
longer, those existing Erdington bungalow homeowners will be living in them longer, thus
creating even more of a bottleneck in the Erdington property market.
So, what is the answer?
Well with building land in Erdington at a shortage, maybe new homes builders should be
forced under planning rules to reserve ground floor apartments to be set aside for older
people to encourage them to move out of larger houses. I would challenge the long-held
point of view that building more bungalows in Erdington is the pre-eminent way to urge
growing numbers of mature ‘last–time buyers’ to move out of their under-occupied
Erdington homes and free up their large homes (where their children have flown the nest)
for younger Erdington families to grow.
With the new Planning Regulations due to be in place in a couple of years, local authorities
could require builders to set aside a share of homes for mature residents, as they are already
obligated to subsidise local community facilities or low-cost social housing in return for
obtaining their planning permission to build in the first place.
Another option would be to convert all those empty shops in our town and city centres up
and down the country into residential use. There is no need for planning permission to
change offices to residential property and the Government are considering the same for
shops (although I have heard of some horror stories of those office to residential
developments making rabbit hutches look spacious) – so again, it comes down to the
planning laws and making them fit for purpose.
There are no doubt consequences of not designing our housing stock for the 21st Century
and beyond for older people.
The population of Erdington is set to grow
by 13,474 to 84,389 by 2040.
As the UK population gets older in the coming decades, as life expectancy is set to grow from
81 years 2 months to 83 years 3 months by 2040, I fully appreciate the need for more
Erdington homes to be built for families, yet one must ask if the planning authorities are
focusing too much on new housing for the younger generation, when they in fact should be
encouraging new homes builders to develop larger, ground floor two-bedroom homes and
decent accessible transport links.
These are my thoughts, what are yours the good people of Erdington?