Bungalows have long been considered the ideal purchase for those approaching retirement. With their stair-free environment and ease of access for wheelchair users, they are a pensioner’s paradise.
However, despite the UK’s ageing population, the construction of bungalows fell from 7% of new builds in 1996 to just 1% in 2014. Many developers are blaming the rocketing land prices for the downfall – causing many developers to build further upwards.
In contrast, the number of new properties which are flats or maisonettes more than doubled over the same period from 15% in 1996 to 33% in 2014.
With the government revealing last year that the average price in England for a hectare of land with planning permission is £6 million, property expert Henry Pryor says that “Bungalows aren’t the most valuable use of a building plot”. He goes on to explain that “You get more value from a two or three-storey building than you could get from a bungalow”.
There are also plans for councils to sell off their higher value properties enabling them to pay more for construction, which the Joseph Rowntree Foundation warns could result in approximately 15,300 bungalows going into private hands with the potential of being replaced by multi-storey homes.
Meanwhile, the population in the UK is expected to increase to 74.3 million by 2039, largely believed to be because many people are living longer. This is likely to mean that the demand for accessible properties such as bungalows will increase.
Mr Pryor explains:
“It’s certainly not as if bungalows are becoming less popular…There are just fewer of them about because people aren’t building them.”
One possible solution to overcoming increasingly high land costs could be the development of “stacked bungalows” – two single-storey houses on top of each other, with the upper one being accessed via a gentle slope instead of a staircase. This method has caused some debate as to whether they would technically still be bungalows or described as easy-access flats.
Ben Bartlett, 74, an occupant of a semi-detached bungalow in Truro for 11 years expresses:
“A bungalow’s great for me…I just hope, for the sake of future generations, that they start building some more.”
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