13 March 2018
The word bungalow originally means “house in the Bengal style” and was brought back from India in the 1850s.
Initially introduced as holiday homes, bungalows quickly became popular with older people wanting to live in a community setting or within more manageable properties. The popularity of bungalows was so great that as many as 28,000 were built in 1987.
However, despite an increasingly ageing population and an equally-high demand, just over 2,000 were built in 2017.
Members of the National Federation of Builders (NFB) and the House Builders Association (HBA) have seen a huge decline in the number of opportunities to build bungalows, citing local planning policy as their major stumbling block.
Several members who typically built bungalows on garden sites, as part of local developer estates or on small sites reflecting market need, have seen planning favour high-density and volume developments. This extra level of risk to achieve planning has caused them to stop building bungalows altogether.
Local policy has only reinforced this trend through tools like housing needs assessments, which typically identify bungalows as solutions to the supported care setting.
HBA members believe that this is a short-sighted approach because many older people require appropriate homes for independent living, not residential care. The high costs of bungalows, compared to traditional buildings in the same location, show how desirable they remain.
Rico Wojtulewicz, senior policy advisor at the NFB, highlighted this fact on BBC Inside Out London on 12 March 2018. Wojtulewicz was filmed on a small site in Barking, which was turned into a community bungalow setting.
Wojtulewicz said: “It is a lot harder for developers to get planning permission to build a bungalow than it is to build a terraced house. London hasn’t tried to build more bungalows or to stimulate that market. Local authorities should work more closely with local developers to deliver a more flexible mix of housing.”
Richard Beresford, chief executive of the NFB, added:
“The success of office-to-residential shows why planning policy is so important. The Government and local authorities might need to rethink both their ambition and policies in order to house local people more appropriately.”
The episode of Inside Out London is available to view on the BBC IPlayer until 16 April 2018.