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.
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.
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.
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 area is wooded today, but at the time Mr and Mrs Mills were not alone. They had neighbours along avenues forming suburban blocks.
The whole of Dunton Hills was plotlands, and gradually frustrated or cleared by the planners of Basildon after the Second World War.
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.
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.
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.
Thanks to Google Earth, you get the picture.
Ian Abley 22.04.09
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