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Ian Abley Visit "The Haven", the Dunton Hills Plotland Museum in the Langdon Nature Reserve, Basildon, Essex, SS16 6EB
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Plotlands as a measure of housing affordability 75 years on

Googling plotlands at 10 to 30 homes a hectare

You know Google Earth is brilliant, and where to find it. It is easy to take a look at anywhere in the world. It is not the most exotic of locations, but I recently Googled the old plotlands at Dunton, now a wooded hillside.

Visit "The Haven", the Dunton Hills Plotland Museum in the Langdon Nature Reserve, Basildon, Essex, SS16 6EB

Mr and Mrs Mills built a bungalow they called The Haven in the Dunton Hills "plotlands", west of what became the post-war new town of Basildon in Essex. Mr Mills was a carpenter, and he and his wife were aged in their early twenties. They had youth, but more importantly were prepared to make something of their lives. In 1934, three quarters of a century ago, it was possible for the British workforce to become owners of housing costing about 3 times their household income.

clickPlotlands as a measure of affordability 75 years on 05.04.2009

For the Mills household Dunton offered the chance at a permanent home of their own, free of private or public landlord. The Dunton plots were 6m (20ft) wide strips of between 48 and 54m (160 and 180ft) in length. The plots would have been sufficient for terraced houses at a density of 30 homes a hectare allowing for the width of the avenue in front, and cost about £7 each. The Mills were ambitious, and did not want a terrace with all the added complexity and cost of party walls.

"The Haven", the Dunton Hills Plotland Museum, was built at a density of 10 homes a hectare with a plot of 972m2

They bought three gently sloping plots totalling 972 m2. With the avenue that is a detached house density of about 10 homes a hectare. It meant a garden space for Mr Mills to build a workshop, keep a horse and cart, and store bicycles. If business thrived he could park a motor vehicle.

"The Haven" built at 10 homes a hectare compares with terraced development at 30 homes a hectare

The area is wooded today, but at the time Mr and Mrs Mills were not alone. They had neighbours along avenues forming suburban blocks.

Visit "The Haven", the Dunton Hills Plotland Museum in the Langdon Nature Reserve, Basildon, Essex, SS16 6EB

The whole of Dunton Hills was plotlands, and gradually frustrated or cleared by the planners of Basildon after the Second World War.

Visit "The Haven", the Dunton Hills Plotland Museum in the Langdon Nature Reserve, Basildon, Essex, SS16 6EB

One Hectare of overgrown plotlands at Dunton Hills

To build 2,000 homes 200 hectares would be needed at the Dunton Hills density. If built at 30 homes a hectare 67 hectares would suffice. That would be something like 9 Dunton Hills for 2,000 homes at 10 a hectare, or 3 Dunton Hills if built at 30 homes a hectare.

Visit "The Haven", the Dunton Hills Plotland Museum in the Langdon Nature Reserve, Basildon, Essex, SS16 6EB

To organise between 3 and 9 Dunton Hills in a year, every year, in 250 locations, would be to organise a house building programme of 500,000 homes a year. Between 750 and 2250 Dunton Hills each year. Between 16,750 and 50,000 hectares turned over to housing every year.

clickWhere to build in 2009? 14.04.2009

A small percentage of Britain to be built on, but a serious organisational effort for a large number of people, and particularly when the planning law makes it illegal. Daunting, but Dunton shows it is manageable.

Visit "The Haven", the Dunton Hills Plotland Museum in the Langdon Nature Reserve, Basildon, Essex, SS16 6EB

Visit "The Haven", the Dunton Hills Plotland Museum in the Langdon Nature Reserve, Basildon, Essex, SS16 6EB

Thanks to Google Earth, you get the picture.

Ian Abley 22.04.09

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