We are not free to live where we want!

Our recent blog on the Tregunnel housing development led to a bit of a debate on ‘It’s Our Cornwall’. Various points and counter-points were made, some of high quality.

One contributor [Amanda Pennington] made the comment below:
I do not have a problem with people moving. We all have the freedom and opportunity to go wherever we want in this country. Cornish people are equally able to go and live wherever they want in the UK. The issues of affordable home ownership are not exclusive to Cornwall, and people moving here contribute to the local community and economy too.

There are some serious flaws in this approach.

1) We do not all have the freedom and opportunity to go wherever we want. This freedom depends very much on a households income and resources, those with more can avail themselves of this opportunity many cannot. Doubtless there are residents of Camborne who would like to live in Feock but cannot do so as they cannot afford the prices.

There are people from St. Ives who would like to live in St. Ives but find it impossible to do so.

Many households in Cornwall would like more spacious accommodation with more garden space but that like remains an aspiration unable to be fulfilled.

2) Those who do have the opportunity to move where they like gain from the move but impose a cost on others. Competition in the housing market means that households in the area find they have to move to a cheaper area – away from friends and family. They may stay in the same area but with limited choices end up in a more densely populated area.

To argue that you just means you build more houses also impacts on the local community with the loss of cherished green spaces and important agricultural land.

There is an environmental cost as land is developed to provide more housing.

3) People do not just move on a whim. A resident of say Berkshire does not get up one morning and say “I think I will move to Cornwall today”. People move not just because they have the ability to do so but because there are push and pull factors which both encourage them to move and where to move to. Developers, estate agents and the ‘lifestyle’ commentariat highlight the benefits of certain areas actively encouraging people to move. New houses are promoted to appeal to those wishing for a different lifestyle (though invariably it is the same lifestyle they had before in most respects). A market is generated, developed and shaped facilitating and enabling those with the resources to move.

4) The freedom to move, to live and work where you want is at the end of the day a result of political decisions. Governments of various political hues have decided that this ‘freedom’ is allowed but it is not some inalienable right, it can be modified, restricted or withdrawn.

5) Population increase has a significant negative impact on the environment both on a local and global scale. It should not be encouraged.

6) We need an alternative policy framework which gives people within Cornwall better housing and better choices. We cannot do that if there is the constant continuous cascade of population growth.


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