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Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny

David Rutland
Written by David Rutland

Bristol’s so-called solution to the housing crisis is insulting and will only add to renting woes

Think back to the size of Mars bars when you were a kid. Or Cadbury’s Creme Eggs. Or Roses chocolate tins.

Bigger, weren’t they?

No it’s not your imagination, or even that you are now comparatively larger. Confectionery manufacturers have been steadily reducing the size of their offerings over an extended period to cut costs, while simultaneously increasing the price you pay at the checkout. It’s called shrinkflation, and it has been a cause of concern to economists and consumers for decades.

Houses have been shrinking too, and it’s not solely down to the relentless subdivision of grand old Jacobean terraces into flats and HMOs.

If you’ve had a chance to take a tour of properties in the last few decades, you’ll have noticed that houses built by Barratt, Persimmon, and similar companies just seem a bit… off.

Properties built by both developers fall well short of the minimum space standards laid out by the government in 2015, and although the houses are in perfect proportion, good luck on keeping your head damage free if you’re above average height, fitting a double bed into a double bedroom, or stretching out in a full sized bath. It’s just not going to happen.

And although homes built by Barratt and Persimmon seem to be made for midgets. They command the same prices, if not higher ones, than larger properties.

But houses have a similar layout, and even the tiniest terrace will have at least two downstairs rooms (including the kitchen), two bedrooms, and a bathroom. That’s what houses are. Anything less is a shed, or a converted garage, or a box. And that would be ludicrous. Right?

You probably already know where this is going, because of course you do.

In an effort to tackle the housing crisis, Bristol City Council has given the go ahead for so-called pop-up homes.

With one bedroom and one downstairs living room cum kitchen, the properties can be erected in less than a day, and resemble nothing so much as a shipping container, or maybe a portakabin.

According to an article in the Bristol post in September, “Each pod has its own front door, balcony, kitchen and TV. The small, but perfectly formed units also feature a mezzanine floor with a desk, doubled bed, bathroom and storage space.”

To us, that sounds more like a fancy bedsit than a house, and so far, the port city has only given the go-ahead for one of the structures to be erected, so we don’t know whether the idea will actually take off. If it does, Bristol could soon be littered with hundreds of portakabin homes in car parks and industrial estates across the city.

The pods will cost anywhere between £80,000 and £100,000, plus the cost of the land you need to put it on.

At the high end of that price range, you can buy a nice two bedroom flat in a proper building, and for not much more, you can purchase a nice three bedroom terrace. This is in Bristol, not the wild and untamed, frozen north.

And it’s not hard to guess who’s going to be living in the pod houses. They are essentially temporary structures, not too different from caravans, and although the designer states that they are mortageable, we’d be surprised if any building society would loan £100k on a property which can be loaded onto the back of a truck.

 No. The boxes will be bought for cash, or with a business loan, and let out. And as with the ever shrinking Persimmon houses and the Toblerone of your youth, the rent will only go up.

About the author

David Rutland

David Rutland

With a decades long career as a professional writer, David Rutland has worked as a journalist on local, national, and international newspapers, before embarking as a career as a freelancer.

He has ghostwritten several books, as well as producing travel guides, manuals, humour articles, and more internet blogs than you can shake a stick at.

David maintains offices in East London, but spends most of his time in a shed near Liverpool, where he writes, as well as developing apps for Android.

What people say about him:

Arrogant and abrasive - Alan Davis, Editor in Chief North Wales News Group

An absolute liability - Matt Simms, Editor, Vale advertiser

Are you sure this won't get us all arrested? - Mohana Prabhakar, Editor in Chief, Apex News Group

Go and have a shave. You're all prickly - Mrs Donna Rutland.


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