HATE THY NEIGHBOUR?
|STILL TALKING | Gary and Kate might have heated
arguments but they can still have a laugh|
The government's policy of putting poorer people
in affordable housing in exclusive areas is coming under scrutiny
by the ones living with it. Neighbours Kate and Gary live with the
scheme and they are less than impressed.
In a fashionable Tunbridge
Wells house, a two-bedroom flat is on the market for £250,000. Kate
and Gary both live in this desirable house, but that's where the similarities
Kate is a restaurant manager, who enjoys travelling and
charity work. Her first floor flat is privately owned.
Gary works as a jobbing builder and has a pet snake.
Some two years ago, he moved into the ground floor social housing flat
managed by a housing association.
The difference in ownership has created problems in the
house. As Kate puts it, "People have to work for hours to live in
a place like this, and then others get it for free and don't live by the
Cats and 'trivial' parking problems
The problems in the sought-after house began six months
after Gary moved in and have continued ever since. It started with a cat
in this building where no pets are allowed.
doesn't have a parking space - but still parks here|
The cat was caught weeing on the front step. Gary was
only looking after the cat for his ex-wife and had no plans to keep it.
Then it's the issue with the parking spaces.
Gary doesn't have a parking space. Yet he parks, what
Kate calls "a fleet of cars" outside the house.
Gary feels the argument about parking spaces is just
"trivial" and is adamant the problems are deeply rooted in a
Gary believes the rest of the residents consider him
working class and says "We are segregated."
This scheme of combining privately owned housing with
social housing, also called affordable housing, is termed pepper-potting.
- one way of sprinkling poorer people in the community|
Pepper-potting is the technique of sprinkling poorer
people throughout a community and is a term mainly used by the housing
Arvinda Gohil works with the National Housing Federation.
"The idea is that within a given area you have people
from all walks of life living together to build communities.
"The alternative is large housing estates resulting
in segregation and deprivation."
It's up to the local council to make sure there is a
percentage of affordable housing included in every new-build or re-development.
Planning applications scrutinised
Fulwood believes in pepper potting|
Tony Fulwood is the head of Strategy and Development
for Tunbridge Wells Borough Council.
"What happens is when a planning application comes
in, we look for a percentage of affordable housing within. Therefore as
developments come forward we negotiate, normally 25%."
Ideally, affordable housing should be indistinguishable
from the houses sold on the open market.
The result of the pepper-potting is people from different
social classes living next door to each other. In an ideal society this
is the ideal system to create a mixed sustainable community.
Financing the builds comes from a combined central government
grant and private sector funding. Many home-owners have expressed concern
over the effect pepper-potting has on their property.
Is it worth it?
The pepper-potting scheme has been known to cause friction
in some cases, but it will continue as housing policy in the foreseeable
is worth it - Arvinda Gohil|
For these people involved, either living or working within
the scheme, the opinions are divided whether it is worth it.
Gary doesn't feel the pepper-potting scheme is working
at all, mainly due to other people.
"We should all be able to get on, but certain people
will not allow it."
Arvinda Gohil from the National Housing Federation sees
pepper-potting as the only way to go in the future.
Kate believes in the theory of
"It doesn't work because there will always be an
inevitable divide between people."
Tony Fulwood from Tunbridge Wells Council says "I
believe pepper-potting results in two things, social mix and the provision
of affordable housing which is much needed in the South East."