Thursday, 22 September 2011

First time buyers living on a canal.

First time buyers living on a canal.

The above is quite a statement to make, yet if we are home owners one of the main ways to categorise our home is by its worth. We are all interested in the monthly rise and fall of property prices in the areas where we live. Could we be trapped in “negative equity” a sort of “no man's land” that can only be avoided if you can sit out the down turn and continue to pay your mortgage.

Yet we don't think of our boats in quite the same way. They tend to be very expensive luxury leisure items that we enjoy spending some time on. We don't expect to make a profit. There is the old joke about a boat being a hole in the water in which we throw money. But is this all about to change?

Lord Snooty AKA Dave Cameron's “big society” as championed by the Con-a-Lib Government have come up with a new old idea. Why not live on a boat. The Minister for Housing Grant Shapps has been encouraging local authorities to get into the big new thing, by covering the affordable housing shortage and to get people to live on a boat.

The new BW charity could be very charitable to the homeless. It could now be expected to provide mooring facilities for cheap alternative housing. This would require long term mooring leases at affordable rates. As well as improved sanitary facilities in all areas.

Could this create a new market in starter homes on boats for first time buyers before moving into the more usual bricks and mortar. Could this be a floating version of a residential trailer park. It might seem to be quite far fetched at first sight, but is it?

One of the problems around affordable housing is that as property prices escalate people working in essential services like hospital nurses cannot afford to get on the property ladder. Small bed-sit flats not unlike the accommodation of a narrowboat can cost between £500 and £750 pounds a month to rent in such areas. Add to this the typical annual service charges and you are looking at around £1000 a month.

We all know of areas where current residential moorings can cost £3000 a year. Yet living on a boat in such circumstances could provide significant cost savings. Some people already know this and have been making savings on their cost of living expenses for years.

Now that rule changes are being made by the “Communities and Local Government Department” so that boats and caravans can be used by local councils to accommodate homeless people. BW the charity could become a social housing project on a grand scale.

I expect the chintz curtained NIMBY groups to start to form in the near future. Like travellers at Dale Farm I expect we will be asking BW to respect our canal culture.


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