It’s a story as old as time. The belief that just by building something, people will want to buy it. It was dramatized in a great film – The Field of Dreams.
Here in Basingstoke, pleas to build more houses, especially affordable ones, fail to acknowledgement the very unique situation that Basingstoke faces. In our borough, building too many homes not only suffocates the infrastructure and services that existing residents depend on, it also exacerbates the capacity problem by encouraging more inward migration.
We have built more homes per capita than any of our neighbours. 170% more homes than Hart, 50% more than Reading and 77% more than West Berkshire. This house building splurge has not solved the problem. It’s just opened the floodgates. Basingstoke’s forecasted population growth of 33% between 2001 and 2031 is twice that of Hart and West Berkshire, with 60% of that growth coming from inward migration. Basingstoke’s eyes have been bigger than its stomach for a while. The evidence proves two things. We never get the infrastructure and services we need to support more houses. And if we build them, they will come. So who are we building homes for? We know from The Council’s own research that 75% of residents believe we have built enough homes already and on past evidence it isn’t for local people. So the only people who benefit are the developers.
Basingstoke is a developers ‘field of dreams’. For those of us who already live here, too much more development will become our own nightmare.