Saturday, 27 August 2011

Use boats to ease housing crisis, minister says

Local authorities should encourage residents to live on boats to ease Britain’s lack of affordable housing, the Housing Minister has said

Grant Shapps said that boats with residential moorings could be used to allow people to live in areas of the country where they could not afford to do so otherwise. Around 15,000 people live on the UK’s waterways and many more “would like to do so”, the minister said. Half the population lives within five miles of one of Britain’s waterways.

Mr Shapps said that new moorings could be eligible for the Government’s New Homes Bonus, meaning that councils could receive funds to invest in waterside areas. The UK’s current housing shortage requires around 60,000 new homes to be built per quarter for the shortfall to be met. Mr Shapps said that houseboats are an example of how “unconventional housing” can be used to tackle the crisis.

“Whilst they will never overtake bricks and mortar in putting a roof over the heads of families, innovative new ways of housing families – such as residential moorings – play an important role in allowing people to live near to their place of work, children’s school, or family, and where perhaps they would not be able to afford to otherwise,” said Mr Shapps.

He said that the Government’s localism agenda could be an opportunity for houseboats to be given “a new lease of life”. Sally Ash, head of boating at British Waterways, said: “The number of people visiting and enjoying our canals and rivers has grown in recent years and this waterways renaissance has triggered strong demand from people wanting to live afloat. We welcome the minister’s encouragement to local authorities to support the creation of purpose built residential mooring sites.”

Alan Wildman, chairman of the Residential Boat Owners’ Association (RBOA), said: “Living afloat is arguably the most sustainable, lowest impact way to live.”

Can you think of any other examples of “unconventional housing”, children?