Film-maker Richard Macer explores the decision by the government to free up the green belt to developers. Macer meets the developers who are changing the face of rural Britain.
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So, we have a seedless raspberry jam and buttercream sponge cake.
We could have had lemon or whole fruit -
they have a vast array of cakes.
So, yeah, this is the completion of the welcome.
It's all part of a bigger picture of building a community,
building an identity, and building a sense of belonging.
But the house we're going to is opposite this pile of bricks.
You know, they really are in the middle of a building site.
-How are you?
-Very well, thank you very much. Hi.
-Welcome to the estate.
-Great, thank you very much.
And enjoy that cake. It's been hand-baked and it is fresh.
-When did you move in?
Literally a week ago.
What do you think of your view? LAUGHTER
Well, I've got to say, it's probably at it's worse at the
-moment, but it's going to improve.
-Yeah, it won't be very long.
New housing estates are appearing all over the country.
For 30 or 40 years, we simply haven't built enough homes.
As a result, prices have risen so much that the average home now costs
almost eight times average earnings.
The Government has said 300,000 homes need to be built each year to
try and end the current housing crisis.
In this series, I've been in the beautiful rural county of
Oxfordshire, where house prices are spiralling,
and new homes are in short supply.
Last time, I saw how opposed people are to building on the countryside.
But this time, I'm on the other side of the fence...
..with the people moving into these huge new estates...
..and the architects and developers who create these new mini-utopias.
We provide something that will work for the next 100, 200, 300 years.
I want to find out - how do you build a community from scratch?
-This is a nosy person's paradise.
But like I said, I like to know what they're doing anyway,
so it doesn't matter.
There's no soul to the place, is there?
It's just... It's just a roof over our head.
And most importantly,
are these new estates solving the housing crisis?
20, 25 metres away,
there'll be houses higher than ours, looking down into us.
Nobody has a right to a view.
Things change, and we have to get used to that in Britain.
TRUCK REVERSING ALARM
Your experience starts as you come into the village.
And then, as you come down the primary road,
anything that's on a corner is really important.
-Kind of frames your main road.
We try to keep it quite open,
because, actually, as you're driving along the road here,
you will get glimpsed views through the trees, so that you can kind of
feel the continuation of the landscape as you move through.
What could be more exciting?
A brand-new home on a brand-new housing estate.
So, we're trying to introduce some
slightly more contemporary house types.
There isn't really a vernacular style in the village,
there's not one character.
So we've got the opportunity just to go free.
-Go a bit rogue with it.
Hannah Smart and her team of young urban designers are creating a small
corner of utopia on the edge of an Oxfordshire village.
I mean, the proposal, as I understand it,
just includes houses, and then obviously the doctor's surgery.
-How close are we to other facilities in the village?
We're a little bit of a walk, so we want to try and improve as much
connectivity as we can.
That gateway is going to be so important, I think.
She is not just designing the homes on this estate,
she's creating a complete neighbourhood...
This is about parkland.
And then that - that's something special.
This is going to be much more rural.
..and one that must seamlessly coalesce into the
At the entrance of the gateway, have something special here.
So, conservation, kind of heritage.
She even makes decisions about the way we might walk to the park and
-go to the shops.
-We've lined the road with tree-planting as well so
that we can make sure that that kind of journey takes you towards
the woodland, that's really important.
I feel like I've just been... LAUGHTER
I feel like I've just been watching Jackson Pollock at work. LAUGHTER
It's quite a big job, isn't it, to make a new community out of nothing?
-When you get tasked with that, such as this, here,
what's your sort of starting point?
So, what we're trying to do is set out the big ideas for sites.
So we're looking at - where are the
big, strategic green spaces, and where do we want them to be?
How does it interact with the landscape?
It's really kind of trying to pull all the pieces of the puzzle
together, to get something that feels like it fits
within the context. We obviously have to take into account how the
existing community feels.
Some developers will just land something from space and not think
about how it fits and what's it going to look like in 100 years, and
actually that's really important to us, as a team,
that we provide something that will
work for the next 100, 200, 300 years.
-And design as if we could live there.
Exactly. If you're not happy to live there yourself, then you shouldn't
really be designing it, I think.
-That's really important.
-So you'd happily live there, would you?
Of course, yeah. Without a doubt, yeah.
-I think the whole team...
-Which house would you have on the plot? LAUGHTER
-We've picked already.
Yeah, we're definitely...we're all living down the bottom here, around
the green space, I think.
-Shared house, isn't it?
-I don't think so.
You'd live in the garage.
Hannah's development of 170 houses is planned for the edge of the
village of Long Hanborough.
She's already won permission to build an estate to the south of the
village, despite a bitterly-fought campaign by the residents.
If this latest one to the north gets approved, both estates will unite to
create a neighbourhood of nearly 400 new homes.
But opposition in the village is still rife,
and this new plan has a good chance of rejection.
In the past, Britain used to be quite good at building houses.
In the '50s, '60s and '70s, it wasn't just estates that were built,
but whole new towns, too, like Milton Keynes.
They're building a new city.
A city as big as Cardiff.
A city 50 miles north of London, starting from scratch,
with a cost of £1,500 million.
And many of these were government-funded.
Recently, nearly all house-building
has been funded by the private sector.
But that might be about to change.
Today, we set out an ambitious plan to tackle the housing challenge.
Over the next five years,
we will commit a total of at least £44 billion of capital funding,
loans and guarantees to support our housing market.
It's partly because of Oxfordshire's bucolic charm that house-building
has met with such resistance over recent decades.
We've agreed an ambitious housing deal with Oxfordshire to deliver
100,000 homes by 2031.
But now, in Oxfordshire, a frenzy of construction has taken grip...
..and is changing the face of the landscape.
I'm on my way to one of its newest large estates -
Longford Park, near Banbury -
where they are building just over 1,000 new homes.
Most weeks here, a new house is completed and a new resident picks
up the keys to their front door.
-Yes, scaffolding's down, scaffolding's down!
-Yes, it is.
Jo and Freddie are about to go into their Taylor Wimpey home on Longford
Park for the very first time.
Our window's open! Look, our window's open!
Although it's not yet finished.
-Which is yours?
-The one with the window open at the top.
The red bricked one at the right-hand side?
We've never seen it without scaffolding before.
So now that looks totally different.
To me, it just looks like a finished house,
at least, obviously, externally.
-This is the sort of the most real it's felt, I think, actually.
-Hope it's what you hoped for.
It's taken about five months to build their house,
but so far they've only been able to take photographs of it from the
I'm not allowed to go in with them, but I'm excited to find out if it
matches their expectations,
so I wait for them to come out.
These two are still both in their 20s, and the only way they could
afford to buy this £300,000 house is
with the government's Help To Buy scheme.
The Government lends first-time buyers money for a deposit,
but it still owns part of the property.
-How was it?
-Yeah, it was amazing wasn't it?
-It was so good. Yeah.
It was even better than we expected, definitely.
Yeah, just seeing it all and, yeah, just really exciting.
Yeah, it's really good.
So that's our kitchen.
And then this is our lounge.
And this is the master bedroom, which is absolutely enormous.
Was that very exciting for you?
-Yeah, really exciting.
-Cos you see everything that's going to be yours.
What did you say when you walked in?
Just that it's...I can't remember.
I think...I think I just squealed.
-I don't think I made... Don't think I actually said a word,
-I just sort of went...
-You said, "This is ours." That's what you said.
You just start to picture things don't you, like tiles and
everything that we've chosen,
and next time we go, all of that will be in.
-Like, knowing that this is ours is such a...
It's an amazing feeling, but it's also just really odd, because we've
never owned a house before, so...
-Like, actually, no,
we own these walls and this floor and this roof.
It's really surreal.
It's... Yeah, really exciting.
-And, yeah, we just want to be in now.
I found this young couple's undiluted joy quite contagious,
and it reminded me of when I bought my first home many years ago.
I paid £44,000 for it.
Lots of people who use the Help To Buy scheme buy new-build houses,
so in a way, there's a bit of social engineering going on in these new
estates. They're targeting the generation left adrift by the
inflated housing market - young couples and young families.
KNOCKING ON DOOR
Hello! Say hello, Richard!
-Hello, Richard. It's raining.
-Well, come in, then. Come in, quick.
-Come on in, Richard.
This is our house. Come in.
Round the corner from Freddie and Jo's place,
I found Josette and Dean.
-This is our kitchen.
-Very nice, isn't it?
-We're happy with it.
These two teachers went for a new build so they could afford somewhere
big enough for their family.
We weren't going to go for a new house, were we?
We were going to go for an old house.
But we had to change our mind cos we did that sort of Help To Buy scheme.
But we we're really pleased we did it,
because now this is a house we can grow into, can't we?
We don't have to move...
If we'd have bought another house, an older house,
we'd have had to get a much smaller one and then move quite quickly as
soon as we'd got another baby.
So we've managed to stay here and get another baby, which is ideal.
Would you say it's quite a young estate?
-Yeah, I think so.
-I think so. I'm considering myself as being
young, I guess, when I say that, but...
-maybe I'm not.
-How old are you?
-How old are you?
37, yeah. I guess I'm not that young any longer.
-But there's a lot of
people with small children, isn't there?
-Are you saying cheese?
I was really against a new house, originally, but now that we've got
it, I don't think I'd move into an old house, cos it's just so much
-easier for us.
-What is it you didn't like about new houses?
-Lack of character.
-Yeah, lack of character.
And you are sandwiched between lots of people.
Everybody's overlooking you. But it's not bad, actually.
There isn't a lot of people overlooking us, and...
Yes, the houses are quite close,
but like I said, I like to know what they're doing anyway,
-so it doesn't matter!
Would you describe yourself as a nosy person?
-Absolutely. This is a nosy person's paradise.
I left Longford Park thinking how these two young couples are
reinvigorating this part of rural Britain.
Oxfordshire is full of villages,
some of which are struggling to fill their primary schools or keep their
shops open and pubs busy.
They need an injection of youth to stave off the risk of extinction.
I'm not sure if Long Hanborough is quite at the point of extinction,
but Hannah and her team believe
their new estate could bolster the old
village with an injection of fresh blood.
How does the woodland work?
There is an art to bringing old and new communities together that comes
through in her designs.
So, the existing settlement edge currently runs there,
and, to us, it was really important to make sure that we're designing
in character with the edge. So that you're creating kind of
bands of development.
And in the centre of the onion, in the core,
you've got the heritage, but as you're moving in this direction,
your development becomes more contemporary, with your most
contemporary development on this edge.
So, if you, if we look at this diagram,
the more traditional houses look like they're more in keeping with
the character of the village. As you shift through the masterplan,
gradually you become more contemporary,
so the dwellings on this green edge here, the rural edge,
have a lot more contemporary styling.
Coming from a village myself, I've always grown up hating development,
and I think that's probably why I do the job I do,
that I want to make sure that the way that we do it is better.
The villagers could derail Hannah's proposals
when they're voted on in three months' time,
so she's taken me down to the site where the development would be
built, and where most of the objectors live,
to show me how she's determined to make her houses blend in.
When we first start looking at a site,
what we do is we walk around and we take in, kind of, what's here.
Cos I don't think you can design somewhere unless you really
understand what it's like today.
We're matching materials, so we've got some red roof tiles over there.
That's something that we'll pick up on.
And a bit further on we've got some slate,
again that's a material that we're picking up on. Brick.
This is the really important footpath
that the locals like to walk their dogs down.
So this is something really important for us to keep and make
sure that we don't lose the character of it.
There are houses over there, are there?
Yeah, so the houses over here are the ones that will be facing onto
the development, so we have to consider what their views will be.
You know, what will they see when they look out of their windows?
If we were to put houses right up against their boundaries,
then we wouldn't really be being a friendly neighbour.
Hannah seemed quite sympathetic to the concerns of the people down by
the edge of the field, but she also had an uncompromising position.
When you get used to a view, it's nice that it stays and that
people don't build houses in the view.
However, nobody has a right to a view, unfortunately,
and many of these houses on this edge of the village are new anyway,
so at one stage in time they were the new houses that have
been built in front of somebody else's view. So I think, you know,
things change, and we have to get used that in Britain,
that some views, you know, are really important and we protect
them, but we can't do that everywhere, otherwise people my age,
young families, wouldn't have anywhere to live.
The villagers may not want Hannah's new estate,
but it's the property developers, perhaps, rather than the architects,
who rank alongside parking inspectors and bankers as people
we love to hate.
This block on our left here, actually, is actually apartments.
Although it looks like it's designed to be one building,
-it's all apartments in there.
-Is that social housing?
The developer Hannah's working for has a bit of history with the
village of Long Hanborough.
Pye Homes have built a number of houses here over the years.
The MD of Pye Homes, Graham Flint,
wants to show me round one of his showpiece properties.
This is where everyone will gather. This is where the parties happen.
This is going to be the hub of the house.
This side of the island, you've got a breakfast bar.
And then a double oven for cooking, obviously.
So, this is the master bedroom.
Graham lives in a Pye Home, rather like this one, actually.
So, this is the formal dining room.
This is probably when they'd get their Sunday best china out,
and they'd want to entertain and impress while they're entertaining,
but generally I would suggest that most people would be in the kitchen,
around that table, in the bay by the rear garden.
But there's no reason why this can't be a family room.
There's no reason why this can't be a games room.
It's got plenty of different uses.
How much is this house worth now?
This one's on the market at the moment at £895,000.
And as you can see, is readily available for somebody to buy today.
In his career, he's built thousands of houses,
many of them quite affordable.
But what unites them all is they've been opposed by the locals.
Do you think there'll be much
-objections to this Long Hanborough one?
-Yes. Yes, I do.
People just don't like change,
and unfortunately we represent change.
We've had an opportunity. We've...
Where we've built before, we've had objectors objecting to a development
where we've built before, and
two of those objectors have ended up buying houses on our site.
-I think it really is...
If we could magically make a development appear overnight, there
wouldn't be half the problem. People are just afraid of change.
So who are the villagers objecting to Graham and Hannah's
Long Hanborough estate?
The fact that no-one has a right to a view is enshrined in law -
a law that dates back to 1610.
So whose view would Hannah be taking away?
With a garden facing out onto a lovely field, I found Ken.
-When did you move here?
-Oh, we moved here in 1974,
-when they were first built.
-Yes, 1974, they were built by
the developer who's going to be building behind us.
-Pye Homes - oh, yes.
Presumably, you were taken with this view, were you?
Yes, well, it was actually animal farming then, and as I say,
the cows used to come down each day to be taken to the milking parlour.
They used to stop and look at our dog.
In those days, I saw a cow give birth in the field
-to a calf.
-What, just out here?
-Yeah, just out here.
Once the estate is built,
Ken will no longer be looking at this countryside...
..but rather into the bedroom of his new neighbour.
And how close in proximity will they be?
Well, we could be losing about five metres of our garden.
You'll be able to wave at your neighbour.
-Oh, wave at them? We'll be able to say good morning and goodnight.
More possibly they'll be able to say goodnight to us, as they'll be
looking more into our bedroom than we are into theirs.
And how does that make you feel?
It's annoying that we don't seem to have had any consideration on
that respect. I have put in the points about that, but they've got
no positive response at all on the overlooking issue, and that is
a valid planning objection,
and there's been no positive response to it at all.
Of course, all estates were new, once.
I wonder if people protested against Ken's Pye Home back in the '70s,
with their placards and their flared jeans.
The post-war years of the '50s and '60s and '70s created a number of
now infamous neighbourhoods.
The New Town has not escaped that stigmatisation and decline of
certain areas and streets.
Streets come up in the world and come down.
Some of the streets in this area are known to more fortunate residents as
In the 19th century,
they built houses in long, straight terraced rows.
They became the slums of the 20th century.
This is the Netherfield estate, and I wonder if, in 50 or 100 years'
time, a television reporter will be standing here, saying,
"We must have better housing."
But what is it about our modern estates today that will future-proof
them from such a vision of dystopia?
To find the answer to that,
I've come to another vast Oxfordshire estate near Bicester.
When immigrants first arrived in New York,
they were greeted by the unforgettable sight
of the Statue Of Liberty.
Instead, new settlers at Kingsmere
are welcomed by the slightly less iconic image of the Brewers Fayre
and the Premier Inn.
When complete, it will have 2,500 houses,
and a population of about 7,000.
As we walk down here, that one's Polish, that one's Caribbean.
That one there's Polish,
and the other one the other side of him is Asian,
the one on the other side of that one's Romanian.
And then from here, we're talking Thailand,
again from China, from Sierra Leone, and from Lebanon.
We have a varied mix of nationalities on the estate.
Kingsmere is not yet fully grown.
It's kind of in its teenage years.
And like a teenager, it's got blemishes
and it doesn't quite know its place in the world yet.
I actually could look out over all this
and it was just full of poppy fields.
All of this is built over. All of this, all of this.
My house isn't even built, which is there.
So, that's one of the first, is it?
-We were some of the first people to move in, weren't we?
-Takes you back, doesn't it?
When Vicky and Graham moved into their new homes five years ago,
they realised there was something wrong with the neighbourhood.
There wasn't one.
I mean, I wasn't intending to move. I just looked round my...
The show house on a Sunday morning,
because we were going to redecorate our house,
and ended up buying a new house.
-Like you do!
-Like you do.
So I've been banned from show houses now. I'm not allowed to go in.
Because I just... I just love sparkly, new, beautiful houses,
to be honest.
The houses might be new and sparkly on the inside,
but outside your front door,
the half-built landscape is like an obstacle course.
As founders of the Residents Association,
it's down to Vicky and Graham to help people negotiate it.
I've got a question about rubbish bins.
Obviously, as you said, we're growing as a community.
But it doesn't seem to be a consistent approach,
as in rubbish bins everywhere, so people can use them
and the littering, I think it's getting a bit much at the moment.
The construction dust flies around all over the place.
And we don't have any nets protecting us
from that construction dust.
I mean, that's a bit dangerous, isn't it?
Yeah, my concern is mainly that the drainage system -
where it is going to go from the school to?
You were asking about cameras, sir, weren't you?
But beyond dog poo bins,
the problems with parking, and the lack of a postbox,
a quite serious matter has been overlooked.
It affects the youngest members of Kingsmere's emerging community.
A survey by the local church three years ago
found that 35% of the population of Kingsmere was under five.
Many of those are now at the primary school.
This year, since September,
we've had 31 new children have come into our school,
and that's a classful.
We want to be really sure that people who come to our school...
-Yeah. We do.
We want to make sure that people feel welcome.
I would say that just being kind and caring to them,
because then they won't feel like they're alone all the time.
They could feel nervous, but also excited as well.
And sad, because they're leaving all their old friends
and their old school behind.
The problem is to get to and from the new estate,
the children are having to take their lives into their own hands.
Without the safety of a pedestrian crossing.
What do you think about the road, Tyler?
Well, we really need a crossing. Otherwise...
..Middleton Stoney Road is going to become a danger road.
Because there's no traffic lights,
they can't just stop and they'll just keep on going.
Sometimes, you have to run because the cars might come quicker.
-Is it a bit scary at times?
-A little bit.
Vicky and Graham are launching a campaign,
not only to get a postbox erected on the estate,
but the much-needed pedestrian crossing installed
for the start of the new term in September.
Although I'm very, very hopeful for this crossing in September,
there is part of me that thinks that probably won't happen.
And that's extremely sad.
Unfortunately, it's going to take a fatality,
it's going to take a serious accident
before something is done quickly.
I got a sense there might be a lack of joined-up thinking
from those various organisations who had devised Kingsmere,
and its connection to the wider world.
I think the whole development is very back to front.
I think it was more sell the land and get as many houses as you can
on the plots, rather than think about infrastructure.
Which all eats into their profits a bit.
At the end of the day, property developers
make money out of selling houses.
That's a prime motivation.
But they need to get the balance right, or that beautiful thing,
a blossoming community, may not happen.
Hannah and her team of urban designers have been working on plans
for a 170-house estate in Long Hanborough.
But there has been a setback.
After a meeting with the planning authority, changes need to be made.
Hannah is allocating too many houses onto the site
and not providing enough green spaces.
Unless she changes it, the application could well be rejected.
The recommendation for approval is vital.
We need to get that.
Are they suggesting if we make those relatively simple amendments,
we will get recommendation for approval?
We haven't got that far with them yet, unfortunately.
She and her boss John must discuss this worrying news
with Graham, the developer.
Now, one of the concerns they have
is the relationship of the development
to the conservation area, and whether in fact in their view,
we're having an adverse impact
upon the character of the conservation area.
There's one other thing, actually, that we've missed, and that was
that obviously we've got the green space then up here,
and then one down here, in the planner's eyes,
and they would like a link between the two.
So, we have now done a sketch layout...
..which removes the dwellings at the top
and removes the ones at the bottom,
and then we've put in a primary road that's tree-lined.
-That's a conversation we can have later.
I'm a little concerned on a couple of grounds.
One, losing units here ultimately in terms of losing units.
-So, we're losing 20 units.
-Any chance of recovering any of those?
-Possibly a few less.
-We obviously need to look at that in terms of viability.
-And make sure it works for the landowner.
-And make sure we can...we are maximising the land value.
Graham is having to reduce the number of houses
and increase the amount of green space.
But in doing so, he has eaten into his profits
and that of the landowner too.
Part of the application, we have to engage with residents,
with the Parish Council, and that generally involves one meeting,
where everyone comes together with their pitchforks,
and they come and involve themselves in what we're presenting.
I was...threatened to be pushed over by, shall we say a mature lady,
in the car park, one evening.
Ten o'clock at night, she was going to push me over.
And her husband was going to threaten to smash up my car.
But that's the level of emotion some people get themselves into.
We were promoting a scheme in a village
and I had to go along to a planning committee...
..with the police present.
Because I had been physically threatened. My life was threatened.
I had the police sat in the audience,
so that there wasn't any trouble...
..before the decision was taken.
Well, it was something different, actually.
It was a bit scary, yeah. It was a bit scary, if I'm honest.
I can't understand why, though,
because I'm such a nice...person, normally!
It's not an emotion you expect to feel...
..sympathy for a property developer.
But as a direct consequence of building lots more houses,
someone somewhere is going to have their nose put out of joint.
I was returning to Longford Park, to meet with a young woman
who thought she was moving into her dream home.
Until she picked up the keys.
They were there.
Can you see them now?
Yeah, there are scratches all here...
Salila bought her £400,000 four-bed house a year ago
after giving up her life in India
to marry Shweta, who she met on a dating website.
There are scratches everywhere.
-What are they caused by?
Her house has one of the best locations at the edge of the estate,
with a window facing out onto open countryside.
But there are problems.
There are scratches all across the sink.
Chips, like these.
Right, yeah, I can see that.
They call it snagging, but I would call it an incomplete house
when we moved into the property.
See? Things like these.
It was definitely not like they showed us in the show home.
Salila wants to have the house blessed with a traditional ceremony
called a Puja, but she can't until the snagging list is addressed.
How do you feel about coming over here to live?
I was fine. I mean...
We were like, OK, after a couple of years,
maybe we'll go back home, because I'm quite attached to...
..my family and I have a big family, relatives and stuff.
I'm a people person, and look at me here. Just the two of us!
In India, you know every other person down the lane.
Here, it's totally different!
It's fun there.
You talk to everyone about everything.
And there was a phase when I was quite lonely and I would say
I was sort of depressed. I didn't want to speak with anyone
because there was no-one around and I used to...
There were these times when I used to literally break down
and say, "I want to just go home!"
I'm fine now.
I felt sorry for Salila.
She had given up her homeland to arrive at this strange estate
in the corner of a strange land.
There's nothing here. It's just dull.
It's just quiet!
While walking around, I bumped into a young man
who was also at a loss for something to do.
I mean, the trouble is it all looks the same.
It's... If you could diversify it a bit,
and have this bit way different to that one
and have some running themes, you know, have like...
Everything's so square.
I got lost round here when I first got here,
because everything looks the same.
And it's like, this is just the worst bit of it.
No-one knows what it's going to be.
It's just horrible.
It's just a great big...
Phil Christmas is a builder and moved here a year ago
with his parents and sister to a three-bed Taylor Wimpey home.
There's nothing. There's no focal point for a community here.
So there's nothing here. It's just beds,
and people that don't come out their houses, because why would you?
It's all well and good building all these great big houses here
and going, "Oh, it's affordable homes."
They're not affordable. Not affordable for me.
I want, like, one-bed flats, or like one and two-bed flats
that I can maybe get with someone and then we can afford to do.
I don't need a four-bed house.
There's loads of four-bed houses up here. That's not affordable.
That's not getting anyone onto the housing market.
Oh, where are my keys?
Phil is the perfect illustration of just how bad things have got.
He represents the plight of thousands of young people
who are forced to live at home with Mum and Dad.
Do you feel at home here as a family?
-It's just a box!
I thought it would be better than this, but...
No, because you don't get neighbours, like you...
You know, in a village, everybody speaks to you.
I know people have got to come and go and go out to work
but, you know, like Paul says.
There's no soul to the place, is there?
It's just a roof over our head. We should never have done it.
-Yeah. Pretty much.
-Feels to me like you haven't...
You haven't actually psychologically moved in.
-You haven't committed mentally to the place.
I think that's an issue of just about everybody on this estate
is that people, psychologically, haven't moved in.
The trouble is, nowadays, with the way people work
and the way people move,
people don't live in houses for, like, ten or 15 years.
They live in there for two or three years
and get another job somewhere else and move on,
so you've got this constant replenishment of people
who then have to try and fit in to this non-existent community,
and then they leave this non-existent community
to go to somewhere else,
so the place never really gets a chance to get a soul.
How would you describe the culture of Longford Park Estate?
-There isn't one.
-There isn't one, yeah.
There's no culture. Basically, it's...
It's a dormitory into which people
basically stream in and out of at rush hour.
It's as simple as that.
It's got no centre. It's got no sense of cohesiveness.
I think Mr Christmas was being a bit down on Longford Park.
But how awful to move somewhere
and discover it was the wrong thing to have done?
Longford Park felt like a place waiting to be possessed by a spirit.
I think one of their concerns was they don't want the perception
that the development is going to expand into this space,
so they'd like us to increase this green.
So that this bit here feels like a country park.
Hannah and her team are going through final changes
to the designs for the new Long Hanborough development.
And Pye obviously understanding that these changes
-will result in fewer units overall.
-Yes. So, we may lose a few numbers.
So, we'd be losing...six from there.
It's their last chance to make amendments
before the vote in a week's time.
She's hoping that by guaranteeing up to 50% of the estate
will be affordable homes might help to sway the jury.
Who's going to amend the masterplan?
Obviously, living in a village, you do get really precious about...
..new developments coming in and it's, even for me,
I don't like it, but I know that it's not all that bad.
Actually, developers create some really lovely places.
And I think it's just the thought of losing the green space
that is really tricky for some people.
Do you live in a modern house, or...?
No, I've always lived in old houses.
I think I really like the charm of...
Like, the character that you get in old houses,
and being able to modernise them and bring them back to life,
that's something I'm really passionate about.
-But would you live in a modern house?
-No. I wouldn't, no.
No. Contradictory, but I'd never live in a new house.
Over on the Kingsmere estate, there's been a small victory.
-Do you think it looks nice?
I'm really excited over my postbox!
I know it sounds so ridiculous, but it's been a long time coming.
Graham, do you get excited when you get a letter?
-He sent one to himself, didn't you?
Because we wanted to make sure that the postbox actually worked...
Yeah, nobody ever writes to me, other than bills, so, yeah.
Just to check the postbox is being emptied,
I sent a letter to self and it works.
-What did the letter say?
-"Well done to Vicky on getting the postbox!"
Watching this ceremony unfold made me aware that, across Britain,
the architects, developers and builders create the foundations of a
-Have you got your letters ready?
But it's only the people who move into these houses and take ownership
of the new world around them that create a thriving neighbourhood.
Let's hope we have lots of letters going all over the world from our
BELL RINGS There was some other good news on the estate.
It was meant to arrive in September, and it's Christmas now,
but the schoolchildren have something wonderful to celebrate.
So, you have had some exciting news, haven't you?
The crossing, what's the news with the crossing?
-That we're going to get one.
Well, we found out that we're going to have one not long ago,
so we found out about the day after yesterday,
so we found out then, and we're going to have a crossing and we're
all very happy.
I suppose it shows that if you all come together you can
-achieve great things.
-Yeah. It's really true.
So, yeah, we kept...
We were showing really good determination.
I didn't really think that the crossing is going to be put up,
so it came as a bit of a surprise.
What will it mean now that the crossing's going to be coming?
What advantages are there for you lot?
The advantages are...
..that the...what the advantages are,
are that people can cross more safely, and old people can,
without even getting hit.
KIDS CHATTER AND LAUGH
Right, so, D-Day.
It's the day of the decision on the Long Hanborough estate.
What's your gut feeling?
Um, I feel relatively positive about the outcome,
and I feel positive for one reason only,
and that's the need for housing.
I'm hoping, really hoping, that will sway the balance.
So it's all down to you, then. No pressure.
-Well, I don't know about that.
-Get your charm out.
-But I'm sure the locals will still have concerns.
Hannah's boss John will have just three minutes to persuade the
authority to vote for the plans.
For developer Graham,
hundreds of thousands of pounds of speculative investment is hanging
-in the balance.
-But this is where planning is such a lottery.
Would you, if it goes against you today, would you feel annoyed?
I'll be disappointed.
Annoyed? I'll have to wait and hear how the discussion goes,
Honestly, I'm a bit nervous that you guys are there, to be honest.
Because I just worry that the members might play to the cameras,
-if you like.
-Well, that's what...yeah.
And that does worry me.
That we could end up with what I would call a daft decision.
Have you arranged any bodyguards or anything for this meeting today? LAUGHTER
No, no, I think there's more people to turn out to try and hiss and boo
at us than physically harm us on this,
-on this occasion anyway.
-Graham's my bodyguard.
I'll be hiding behind you, don't worry.
Well, I think we should make a move.
Are you betting a penny?
-No. A tube of Smarties.
-All of a penny.
-A tube of Smarties.
-No, let's go for a penny.
Good Lord. Last of the big spenders.
He doesn't often bet a penny.
I've maybe heard that twice in three years.
Do you get excited at these sort of things?
Oh, always. Absolutely.
Absolutely. I mean, you've got to remember,
this is the pinnacle of 18 months' worth of work.
And it can turn within an hour,
for the right or wrong reason.
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.
A very warm welcome to members of the public.
Page 37, land north of Whitney Road, Long Hanborough.
There is standing room only in the council chamber.
Hannah has had to reduce the number of houses,
increase the density of the estate, and preserve more green space.
But will it be enough to persuade the councillors who vote?
I would like to call the applicant's agent, Mr John Ashton.
This is a fantastic scheme which will relate in a positive way to the
village of Long Hanborough.
With regards affordable housing,
your housing officer says that 138 households are on the waiting list
for housing in Long Hanborough,
and that if development delivers 50% affordable housing,
the application is supportable.
The scheme provides for 50% affordable housing.
I urge you to approve this sustainable scheme for up to
170 dwellings, including much-needed affordable housing.
Thank you, Mr Ashton.
I wanted to refuse it.
I still want to refuse it.
But I can't, because I think the dangers are too great.
I think, in this particular case,
we have to look to the future and think of the greatest good for the
greatest number of people in West Oxfordshire,
because the alternative could be disastrous for it.
On the positive side,
I would encourage...
Right, those in favour of approving the application in line with the
officer's recommendation, please show.
And those against?
The application is approved.
Well, that was close, wasn't it?
-Heaps of people on the committee.
-Well, that was close, wasn't it?
-Thanks very much.
-Thanks very much. Thank you.
-Good bit of design.
-Well done. Excellent. Well, that was close.
-What was the final score?
-6-2. I thought...
-I thought it
-was going to go 4-4 and the casting vote of the chairman.
Yeah, definitely a roller-coaster.
You were tapping me, saying, "We're going down, we're going down."
But, yeah, a great result. Really, really fantastic.
-I did at one stage.
-I thought it was going to be refused.
Yeah, definite. The way they were talking.
What does this mean for the silent majority?
Well, hopefully it means that they're going to have some
housing available in the villages where they want to stay,
and they're not going to have to stay with their parents, they
will have the ability to apply for some of the houses,
either general-purpose, low-cost housing or affordable housing.
What are you going to do now? Are you going to go back and celebrate?
I'm going to go home, open a nice bottle of wine, and celebrate.
-Have you told your wife yet?
-No. Actually, I have. I have.
I've sent her a text, but I haven't spoken to her.
Oh, right, OK. And have you had one back?
I don't know. I haven't checked.
-I don't think...
-"OK, well done." She'll open the bottle of wine for me.
I noticed when they left in the dark that evening, there were no people
waiting for them with pitchforks.
But love them or hate them,
developers, with virtually every home they build,
create a dream for someone and a nightmare for someone else.
And it was with that last thought in
my mind that I went round to Salila's home in Longford Park.
Plans for a new housing estate opposite her front window had just
It's a lovely view.
Yeah, it is.
That was one of the prime reasons why we picked this property.
-You know that space out there, have you heard about that?
There's maybe plans to build on that land or something.
Er, no. We had no idea about that.
-Hi. How are you?
-Yeah, good, thank you.
-New houses will stand there.
-Oh, I didn't know that.
That's what he heard.
-Houses might come up there, it seems. I don't know.
-There's a plan or something.
I think it's, like, for something like 700 homes or something.
Coming into this area itself,
it gave us a feeling of being closer to home, isn't it?
With all the wildlife, all these little insects, so we had that
feeling, as in you know you're closer to home,
-it reminds you of home.
-It's like the countryside.
And also the countryside look and feel of it, we always wanted that.
I was so looking forward for my
morning cup of tea or whatever, with
my book and all that with the view.
No, I don't want that taken away.
The idea that no-one has a right to a view seemed particularly cruel in
the case of this young couple.
Before I left Longford Park,
there was one more couple I wanted to catch up with.
Just a few yards away,
Jo and Freddie had moved into their new home.
So, yeah, we'll start in the kitchen.
So, for us, the kitchen was the most important room in the house.
-I think that's what sold this house to us...
-..was the amount of
space in the kitchen. We tested it out, didn't we, last week?
We had your parents round, which is like a really small thing, but for
us, it's a lifestyle, and that's what we wanted.
So here's the lounge,
which we've kept as much as we can as a lounge.
When I started on this journey,
I wanted to find out if these new estates where helping to solve the
-Hallway to the master.
And it's undeniable - new builds are offering a lifeline to young people
desperate to get on the property ladder.
-Yeah, the room is massive.
-Hence why we've gone for such an elaborate style of bed.
We've got the option to.
Well, it's not like us, is it, to do something that over the top?
-No, no. It's our little escape as well.
-Well, yeah, not yet.
-A bit of a building site, but...
-No, definitely not good views.
It looks like you're the first.
We are the first in this part of the development.
There's no-one for quite a way around us, actually.
Yes. Does it feel a bit lonely at this stage?
-Do you feel like you're sort of...
-I think it...
-in frontier land?
-Yeah, it's sort of...it does. I think when you come
-home at the end of the day, that's when you notice it.
You drive up, and obviously there's just no-one around.
-There's not that kind of hustle of coming home and...
-I'm getting used to it, though.
-But we are getting used to it.
-Now I think we won't cope when we have neighbours.
I guess the real question is
are the estates going to create communities that, in 50 years' time,
will be places people want to live?
What does it feel like to be part of a new community?
I think one of the most special things about living on a new-build,
kind of, development is that everyone is new, and I think you
make your own traditions, don't you?
And you make the community how you want the community to be.
It's becoming our dream home, really, isn't it?
The location, we just can't believe, can we?
We're, like, five minutes from the doctors, train station. Five,
eight minutes' drive from the train station, which services London and,
-It's those sorts of things which remind you every day in
-How lucky you are.
-If you're not careful,
-you two will start to sound a bit smug.
How do you mend the broken housing market? The country needs to build 300,000 homes a year just to keep up with demand. In this series, film-maker Richard Macer heads to one of our most expensive counties, Oxfordshire, where vast areas of once protected countryside are being turned into housing. With remarkable access to councillors, developers, architects and campaigners and filmed over nine months, he asks if building these vast estates is a solution to the crisis.
In this episode, Macer is with architects, the developers who are changing the face of rural Britain, with the people trying to create a sense of community from scratch, and the pioneers making these new mini-utopias their homes. As one architect of a new development next to the village of Long Hanborough puts it, 'No one has a right to a view - unfortunately. Things change, and we have to get used to that in Britain.'.