Why now could be the time to build more bungalows

Front man and property developer Paul Stone sang to a different tune and defied convention when he decided to build bungalows on a site near his home in Birkenshaw.Brand new bungalows are now a rarity, though not through lack of demand. Planning guidelines now stress the importance of high density developments and single-storey properties do not fulfill this brief.Higher land values have also added financial constraints that mean bungalows are no longer seen as viable on most sites.“People just aren’t building bungalows anymore and that’s based on land values and higher profits to be made on two to three storey houses.“It costs 30 per cent more to build a bungalow compared to a two-storey house but I’ve proved single storey can work financially in the right place,” says Paul, who runs Stone Developments with business partner Mark Fretwell alongside his career as a singer.His starting point was identifying a need and this homework was easy as he lives in Birkenshaw, a popular semi-suburban village between Leeds and Bradford.“I knew there was a need for high-end, low maintenance bungalows aimed at the retirement market and I knew they would work equally well for families and people with disabilities.“The only other options aimed at the retirement market are dated 1960s bungalows and leasehold flats, which don’t appeal to everyone.”The planning department at Kirklees Council welcomed the idea and gave him the go-ahead to build on a site on Station Lane.He has already sold two of the properties on the private road and is staging an open day this weekend to showcase the others, which are on the market for £440,000 each.Contemporary and thoughtful design has played a big part in attracting buyers and achieving the prices needed to make the development viable.“I’ve designed true bungalows through the eyes of a retired couple who are downsizing from a larger home.“They are modern, spacious and luxurious and very different to the 1960s bungalows, which often have very small rooms and feel like a rabbit warren,” says Paul.

A new style of bungalow

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The properties have underfloor heating, a hall, a large sitting room, an open-plan kitchen/dining room, a utility room, a large master bedroom with en-suite, a guest bedroom with en -suite and a third bedroom/office. Bi-fold doors from the kitchen lead to a low maintenance terrace and there’s also a cloakroom, an integral garage and a double drive.

The new bungalows in Birkenshaw

Paul believes that the government should stipulate the inclusion of bungalows in all medium to large new housing development and that affordable housing should also include them.“It’s important to create mixed communities where older people are not excluded. There is too much emphasis on family housing when, in fact, if you build housing that the over-50s want to downsize into, you will free up existing family-size homes.”Paul Baxter, area director of Dacre, Son & Hartley, agrees but adds that location is key. “Older people love bungalows but they also want to be within walking distance of amenities. They are not interested in bungalows in villages that have no shops and no public transport links.”He points to Collingham, near Wetherby, as a good example of how proximity to shops, cafes and buses is valued by older buyers.“They will fight over bungalows for sale in the heart of the village, which are within walking distance of shops, but they are not interested in the bungalows on the fringe of Collingham. Those now tend to sell to people who will convert the loft space and make them into family homes.”Angela McKimmie, sales and marketing director at the Mickle Hill retirement development in Pickering, says: “Understandably, over-60s do not want to have to relocate far from friends and family. They want to remain connected to a local community and stay close to transport links. At Mickle Hill, we have found just that: many of our residents chose to move here purely based on its location as the town centre is a short walk away,”Knight Frank’s Senior Living Survey also confirms that amenity-rich locations are top of the list for later-life buyers.It also reveals the importance of providing accommodation for our ageing population. The number of people aged 65-plus living in the UK is forecast to increase by 20 per cent to 12 million by 2027.It says: “Advancements in healthcare mean individuals are living longer. The cohort of 90-plus-year-olds in the UK is expected to rise by a third over the next eight years.”The bungalows by Stone Developments at Station Lane, Birkenshaw, BB11 2JE, are open to view today, Saturday, June 6, from 12 to 2pm. For details contact Robert Watts estate agents, tel: 01274 689589.