A radical plan praised by the Housing Secretary could see swathes of Britain’s suburbs torn down and rebuilt with Georgian terraced architecture of the type showcased in Netflix’s Bridgerton.
The proposed shake-up of planning rules would hand more powers to homeowners by letting them vote on regeneration designs for their streets.
It could pave the way for sleepy suburban communities to be completely transformed in the style of the Regency Era, according to a report published by the influential Policy Exchange think tank.
Dramatically revamping tired neighbourhoods could also see property prices soar and net homeowners more than £1million, the authors say.
Barnet, Harrow and Croydon have been earmarked as the suburbs where homeowners can take advantage of big increases in value.
The think tank adds that replacing cramped postwar bungalows with terraced builds would help solve the housing shortage and trigger a ‘post-Covid housing boom’.
Rows of postwar bungalows could be replaced with grand Georgian terraces under plans to revolutionise Britain’s suburbs welcomed by the Housing Secretary (artist’s impression)
London suburbs with an abundance of postwar housing have been identified as areas that could benefit most from the plans as they are close proximity to the capital but are not maximising their space (artist’s impression)
Barnet, Harrow and Croydon have been earmarked as the suburbs with the biggest possible margins for value gains for homeowners
Bath’s Royal Crescent is one of the most famous examples of this architecture and recently gained attention as the set of Netflix’s Bridgerton
Under the proposals, voting on a ‘street plan’ would see homeowners agree to common rules around architectural design, parking and contributions to councils.
If 60 per cent of the street voted to approve a redevelopment plan, the report says planning permission should be automatically granted, although homeowners could opt out of the conversion if they wanted.
The authors argue that this ‘bottom-up’ approach whereby residents, and not authorities, sign off on housing developments would do away with NIMBY-ism – the reluctance to have unwanted construction in your ‘back yard’.
They add that by balloting residents, it would make them ‘enthusiastic advocates of building rather than vigorous opponents’ that often thwart projects.
The authors have drawn up a ranking of the boroughs where homeowners could profit most from ‘street votes’ to transform their areas.
London suburbs with an abundance of postwar housing have been identified as areas that could yield big value increases as they are in close proximity to the capital but are not maximising their space.
The authors estimate that a community in New Barnet, Enfield, of 26 bungalows each worth £530,000 could increase its joint value by £44million by erecting Georgian terraces – equating to an uplift of about £1.7million for each homeowner.
Georgian terraces built in the style of the 18th Century are some of Britain’s most sought-after homes as they are both spacious and aesthetically pleasing.
Bath’s Royal Crescent is one of the most famous examples of this architecture and recently gained attention as the set of Netflix’s Bridgerton.
Georgian style is typified by Renaissance design that places emphasis on symmetry in the exterior and interior of the house.
The report argues that bungalows in suburbs (example, left) are not maximising their space and could be transformed into terraced housing (example right) if homeowners vote to give planning permission
The proposals could pave the way for suburban communities of bungalows (file photo) to be completely transformed
Building on existing plots would usher in a ‘gentle intensification’ of the area as more people would be living on the street – avoiding the need for ‘ugly’ high rises in city centres, the report says.
The authors argue this would help revive ailing local high streets brought to their knees by lockdown ‘just as the 1930s housing boom pulled Britain out of the Great Depression’.
The report’s modelling reckons the plan would create a further 110,000 homes in the next 15 years.
The report says: ‘A large majority of the ground area of UK cities is made up of low density suburbia, largely from the interwar or postwar periods.
‘Allowing even a modest proportion of this to evolve into the urban forms typical of Georgian or early Victorian neighbourhoods would provide ample housing to meet our needs, without building on green belt areas or introducing very large quantities of high rise to historic towns.’
It comes as a Government White Paper moots giving small communities the ability to set their own rules on future housing development.
Samuel Hughes, the lead author of the paper and a senior fellow at Policy Exchange, said: ‘We need a scheme that creates more good homes and better places in a way that that shares the benefits with existing residents and communities, so they may become enthusiastic advocates of building rather than vigorous opponents.’
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said: ‘Policy Exchange has led the debate on empowering communities, winning support for development, and creating beautiful popular homes.
‘The Government supports enabling communities to set their own rules for what developments in their area should look like, ensuring that they reflect and enhance their surroundings and preserve our cherished local heritage, and Policy Exchange is continuing this vital conversation.’
Georgian terraces built in the style of the 18th Century are some of Britain’s most sought-after homes as they are both spacious and aesthetically pleasing (example in Bath, pictured)
An artist’s impression of how streets could be redeveloped by terraced housing to help solve Britain’s housing crisis