Latest posts by hypercharleyfarley

building houses on green belt land

Posted: 17/11/2014 at 12:31

Hi NN - I don't think anyone's taken offence at your remarks -  I certainly haven't!  I do agree with you that children need to be able to play outdoors safely and to learn about things in a practical way.   If you were to read through some posts I've made in the past you'd see that I have many happy memories of playing outdoors all day during my childhood - doing things which today would make some parents shudder - e.g. riding around on my pony or my bike without a helmet and fishing for tiddlers in local streams and ponds. 

I think children have always been at risk in terms of "predators", but in the past - and certainly when I was a child, people in the local area obviously knew who the "risky" ones were and warned children in a subtle way.Maybe they even "had words" with them too - but of course I couldn't have known about that then.  I think children were allowed to grow up more slowly, without the present-day pressures"of advertising on TV, violent video games, "celeb" culture and so on.  It's rather sad when I think about it and makes me grateful for the opportunities I myself had. 

building houses on green belt land

Posted: 16/11/2014 at 19:02

Good point there about the terraced houses in Northern areas - however the option to renovate houses like these isn't an economical one.   I think I mentioned in an earlier post that the sort of housing people want these days isn't the same as it used to be. 

Many of the terraces were built around 100+ years ago and basic issues such as damp-proof courses, drainage, indoor sanitation etc which would meet present-day standards etc didn't exist.  They've probably got lead pipes as well........  To sort out all these things via renovation simply doesn't make sense - in economic terms - as it's cheaper and quicker to demolish and rebuild from scratch to meet modern building regs.,  and to create dwellings which people actually want.  No use renovating when the final result is not only more expensive to achieve but also doesn't appeal or fit in with current requirements and actual needs. 

There's also a change in the average age of the population now - many many more pensioners living than ever before, and they need housing but not jobs.  It's a bit of a myth that the housing market is kept going solely by first-time buyers.  At a  guess, I'd say that less than 5% of purchasers round here fit that category - certainly so in the area where I live and work (for an estate agent for the past 20+ years). The government's "income" from stamp duty, for example, probably consists -  for the most part -  from transactions made by people who are either "up-sizing" or "downsizing", rather than buying for the first time.

building houses on green belt land

Posted: 15/11/2014 at 09:39

Some interesting "stats" here, but - like lots of things - it's extremely difficult to identify the whole picture.  Some of the comments seem to imply that the need for more housing is driven mainly by the results of mass immigration, but I think it's worth pointing out that the social/economic scene in the UK has changed a great deal during my lifetime for Brits -  i.e.

People are living longer than ever before and are for the most part able to continue to live an independent life in their own home, thus not "freeing up" properties which would have been inherited in the past by their middle-aged children.

People no longer share housing in the way that they used to amongst family members - in that there are very few properties nowawdays where two or even three generations (adult) are living there.

Young people seem to feel a need to leave their parents' home and set up an independent lifestyle before they are really in a position financially to achieve this, hence the increased need for rental properties for younger people.  In the past - only a generation or so ago - you didn't leave home until you were married and even then you'd saved up for the day when you could/would "fly the nest".

Gone are the days when the norm was to stay in the area where you grew up, work-wise.  Many families - people in their 30's & 40's - simply have to move house because the breadwinner's job demands this, often in connection with a promotion or similar which they cannot in reality refuse.  I meet people like this on a daily basis during the course of my own work.

People's expectations - not "ambitions" any more - are different now.  They aren't prepared to wait for anything, but "must have" everything straight away!.  You might be surprised at some of the comments I hear about kitchens for example.  There might be a perfectly workable kitchen in a property I'm showing them round, but as it isn't to their own taste they often say "I'd simply HAVE to rip this kitchen out", when they don't in fact have to do that at all,  any more than I HAVE to spend £50K on a new car.  Until people come to terms with the difference between expectations and ambitions ref housing, the problem will simply be exacerbated.



building houses on green belt land

Posted: 14/11/2014 at 15:00

People's priorities ref housing these days are a bit different from what they used to be, and things like car parking space is much more important than it once was.  Many property owners/occupiers have more than one vehicle and so it's important to developers to create sufficient space to allow cars to be parked "off road".  This, together with various planning policies means that front gardens are becoming a thing of the past.  Apart from that, gardening isn't something many people are keen on - and we might be forgiven for forgetting that, given that this is a Gardening website!

The costs of converting old farmhouses can be enormous, and - round here at least - many of them have been divided into two dwellings, along with the conversion of various farm buildings.  Usually the development costs involve more than you might first imagine - countryside properties aren't usually connected to all the "normal" mains services, so the costs of drainage systems (septic tank type) have to be factored in and also provision for perhaps underground LPG storage tanks for heating. 

As others have already said, it would seem much more sensible to deal with all the unoccupied properties first, before encroaching on green belt for additional housing and to make these dwellings more desirable in modern terms by perhaps using the square footage in a different way.  Bedrooms, for example, seem to need to be much bigger these days - think of the size of modern furniture - and maybe fewer larger bedrooms per property would satisfy current demand more. 

I live in the country - surrounded by fields - but on the edge of a popular village where property prices are well above the national average.  My work over the past 20 or so years for a local estate agent has given me a good insight into what people actually want - as opposed to what property developers are actually building at the moment.  The problem always arises, when development takes place, is an apparent lack - on the part of the local authority - to take into account the other needs which will arise as a result of an increase in the local population.  By this I mean more school places and parking spaces in the village itself in order to encourage and enable people to use the local shops etc.  If the authorities would consider encouraging developers to create small "play parks" for children in and amongst new properties, I think this would help quite a bit.  I have seen this sort of thing in the USA, and it seems to work really well.  Parents are always worried about the safety of their children, and properly designed and constructed play areas are a good thing to have, and don't need to take up much space.













Bike stolen from back garden. Need gate lock solutions.

Posted: 10/09/2014 at 12:41

You can get padlocks which are designed for use without a key - simply a combination of numbers which, when aligned on the barrel part, enable you to unlock by clicking a little button on the bottom of the padlock. I'd suggest that you might look at these, and maybe also consider a padlock and chain on the bike itself. 

One problem which arises when thieves can do their "thing" out of sight, is that they have the time to work at it without anyone noticing.  The best thing you can do - and this was some good advice from the police and loss adjusters after theft of my property -  is that you use several devices/locks which would make it take far longer for them. 

As far as keys are concerned, there are several makes of "key box" available nowadays.  These are fixed to the wall of a property and (like some padlocks) can be accessed by aligning a number-code.  You sometimes see these boxes at properties which are occupied by elderly people who have carers visits - the carer will have been given the key-code and so there's no need to have copies of keys made for their use.  Any shop/store which sells disability aids would have them, and I guess that you could find them on the internet as well.

Also  (and this is nothing really to do with the original query)  - it's a good idea  - when you move house - to change all the external locks to your "new" property, as you never know who might have had access in the past.

Designing an outdoor eating/living space

Posted: 31/08/2014 at 19:55

Hi!  some great ideas already, though from your photos I dont think there's enough space/rooom between the window in the house extension & its roof for one of those extending/pull-out roller blinds. 

Ref decking - (and at the risk of creating some comments to the contrary!) - I'd say "Don't do it".  It's one of those things which were made fashionable some years ago via those garden-makeover programmes, but it really doesn't work well in our climate.  It gets extremely slippery when wet, even if well looked-after & maintained, and I've heard several stories about people losing things like jewellery which - when accidentally dropped - fell down between the gaps.  It also provides a haven for some unwanted garden visitors (rats) so that's another reason to avoid it, in my opinion anyway!


Posted: 13/06/2014 at 19:49

It will depend a bit where your're going as to what insurance companies will take on+ relevant cost/premium.  I think you need some proper advice from someone like an insurance broker who'll be able to help.  It might be possible for you to add travel insurance to your household policy - and if you're likely to make more than one trip in a calendar year, what they call "annual cover" would be worthwhile.  Saga may well be able to help, so that would be my first suggestion for you.  Whatever you do  please mention all the health issues you have - if not, they won't pay up as regards any claim, even if it's not related to a particular health problem which might need medical care.

A grand Auld Lad.

Posted: 09/06/2014 at 21:33

Hi Frank - Orchid Lady beat me to it, in that I wondered whether you'd consider contacting one of the breed rescue societies.  I bet there's one for Westies, and they'd probably be only too pleased to hear from someone who'd be happy to re-home an older dog.

I can't imagine life without dogs - since the age of 5 I've never been without one (or two) apart from a brief time when we were living in the Fasr East, and even then we had a cat.  It "belonged" to the house we rented then, so although we didn't have to find it a new home when we left - the next tenants would have taken it on -  the Amah we had then wouldn't hear of that, so she took it home with her instead, as she & the cat had become really attached to each other.

My two are doing their best to help rid the garden of rabbits these days.  Not a total success of course, since the rabbits are in the garden 24/7 and the dogs aren't!  Have had to deal with two dead baby bunnies (trophies?) these past two days.  Not too bad if I find them outside, but not so good when they've brought them indoors.....  luckily they just seem to despatch them and then "show off" a bit - at least it's not too much of a mess to clear up because they don't fight over the corpses, so no gory bits to deal with, just some fluff.


The established Garden.

Posted: 05/06/2014 at 19:59

Hello again Frank - I suppose that we've learned to be patient and neither want - nor expect - "instant" results in life.  One of the things I've enjoyed is being able to stay in this house for over 20 years and see some of the things I planted in the early years look now as though they've always been there.

I used to think - as far as fashions in houses etc go - that it was just kitchens and bathrooms which people simply "had" to replace as soon as they moved in.  In most cases "have to" is no more true than anyone "having to" spend a fortune on what look to me like the sort of trousers which are only fit for the rag-bag! Now it looks as though people aren't happy merely to amend/adjust things in the garden either.  Oh well - it'd be really boring if we were all of the same opinion, wouldn't it?!

The established Garden.

Posted: 05/06/2014 at 17:57

Hi Frank! - I reckon it's got something to do with our age..................!      and we belong to the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" brigade.  Why make changes simply for change's sake - and when you get past a certain stage in life, fashions don't matter either.

If - oh if - I had rolling acres of parkland to play with, I'd love the sort of vista you get with some stately homes, but even then there's often a rose garden or something small-scale too.  My own garden is surrounded by fields, so I make do with that - actually I'm looking out over a huge area of potatoes at the moment - you'll be eating them one day soon in the form of crisps (or is it frozen chips they're going to end up as.........?)   By this time next year the field will be grass again - it needed re-seeding anyway as the sileage made last year wasn't the best quality, hence the need to plough & deal with it.  The potato people are doing part of the job!  Once the crop is gone, they'll cultivate/re-seed and then - apart from the cattle which used to graze there - my view will return to what it has been in the past.

I can't see the whole garden at a glance - it's in three parts right/left/rear of the house - &  the smallest part of the garden is hidden behind the garage/storage shed and that's where I have my little veg plot. The local rabbit population has exploded this year (potatoes instead of their usual space?) & many of the bunnies have taken up residence in my shrubberies.  They eat  (or sample) - any-and-everything, so there's not much chance of things like the odd few summer bedding plants surviving.  The only things they've not managed to destroy are those in the tallest planters/pots which are too high even for a rabbit on tip-toes.  The dogs are enjoying things though - but I'm not exactly thrilled to have to remove (as I did earlier today) a dead baby bunny which they were squabbling over in the hallway.  The other day one of the dogs brought a dead rabbit in & put it in his bed in the kitchen.  Oh well...........  whippets were bred to catch rabbits, weren't they!

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ID please!

looks like a cross between grass and foxglove 
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