The recent letter in The Frome Times from Andrew Rose about housing developments in the town, brought up some important points that deserve further discussion. Frome is widely recognized as a caring town where people connect with their neighbours and volunteer to support the community. However, there seems to be a disconnect when it comes to housing developments.
It’s important to challenge developments that don’t offer what’s needed in terms of housing and encroach on valuable green spaces, which not only benefit our communities’ health and well-being but also protect our natural world. We must also try to address the needs of those living in inadequate, poor-quality homes, paying increasing rent, and lacking security for their families, while continuing to provide green space and habitats for nature. It’s not an either-or situation; developments can provide both homes and green spaces. But it does involve difficult conversations.
Nature Friendly Design and Housing Developments
The concept of Biophilic Design ‘used within the building industry to increase occupant connectivity to the natural environment through the use of direct nature, indirect nature, and space and place conditions’ is slowly being integrated into new housing developments.
In this guide created by the RSPB and Barratt Homes for the NHBC, the opportunities for creating wildlife-friendly communities are laid out clearly…
…and the Government Environment Act 2021 has created an ‘obligation on developers to deliver a minimum of 10% biodiversity uplift which is mandated on new developments in England from November 2023’ with a ‘potential for up to 20% Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) to be delivered if required by the local authority’.
‘New housing, commercial and infrastructure developments are set to become “nature positive” backed by £16 million of funding for Local Planning Authorities to support the new approach’. https://www.rics.org/news-insights/biodiversity-net-gain-to-be-introduced-in-england-from-november-2023
Integrating nature into the design of our future housing developments has never been quite so relevant or acceptable. The opportunities ahead of us are equally exciting and daunting.
Community Land Trusts and Biophylic Design
Fortunately, there are examples across the country of developments that do recognize this need for balance, and not only provide not only quality homes for their communities, but also enhance the environment by preserving green space, prioritising community growing areas, and other measures.
Examples of Community Land Trust developments that incorporate Biophylic Design
principles include the Bridport Co-housing Project; ‘Designed to be affordable, high quality, energy efficient, climate resilient and nature friendly.’
Or the Hook Norton CLT; ‘An innovative community led project of affordable homes that will have a positive impact on the environment and be fit for the future.’
Opportunities and Challenges in Frome
Bringing this back to our own community and the uncomfortable conflict between preserving our highly cherished green spaces and providing much needed housing,. While it’s important to preserve green spaces and habitats, we cannot overlook the pressing issue of the housing crisis affecting many in our community.
In Frome over 600 households are desperately seeking a social rented home, and many families are forced to share cramped living spaces that do not meet their basic needs for
privacy and personal space. Many are paying over half their incomes on rents to private
landlords. And many others are forced to move away from the town whose community they are part of. We need to hear their voices and have a greater understanding of the harsh realities they are facing.
As a community, we must have a wider conversation about social and genuinely affordable
housing in Frome. There are many voices not being heard. It’s time to address this crisis and find solutions. That’s why the Frome Area Community Land Trust is encouraging those who are experiencing housing difficulties or on the Homefinder register, to share their stories with us.
Your voice matters, and your story can help us advocate for change.
If you have a story to share (we won’t give your name if you’d prefer not) or want to learn
more about the Frome Area Community Land Trust, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Together, we can work towards a better future for all in our community.