Artisan Housing

by Simon Tooke

In brief, these are the real issues that Artisan Housing would address:

  • Cost
  • Transport
  • Time
  • Flexibility and Quality of Life
  • Family Involvement
  • Security
  • Complementary Skills
  • Mutual Benefits
  • The environment

Artisan Housing – General Background

This page has been produced to promote the concept of Artisan Housing. There are many practical advantages to a scheme like this and they are listed here. There are also political and economic reasons why this is a good policy for future development. We need a new category within the planning system to meet this need.

Historically, commuting is a recent phenomenon. Until the early twentieth century most people lived close their places of work. Even during the social upheavals of the Industrial Revolution people were generally able to walk to work. Later, suburban life became fashionable and people travelled into urban centres to work. This became possible due to the development of rail and road transportation systems for the masses.

We are now at a point in history where these rail and road systems are no longer adequate for the purpose for which they were originally intended. We face a choice: should we continue with the same lifestyle, and seek to increase the capacity of our transport systems, or should we rethink the whole practice. Should we pay the bill through taxation or should we allow private, pay-as-you-use development? In either case, public or private, how will we choose whose homes must go or which open spaces must be lost to make available the necessary space?

It makes sense to identify sites within towns and cities where small-scale mixed development would not be inappropriate. Brown field sites, where there has been previous commercial use which is now underused or disused, form an ideal reservoir of land that could be reutilised. It will also become necessary to build on land previously considered unsuitable for development, except for low-lying areas subject to flooding.

There are 4.2 million[1] people registered as self-employed across the UK as a whole.  That figure represents over 15% of the working population and serious provision should be made to accommodate their needs.  Currently, there is no actual planning category into which an application for permission to construct Artisan Housing can be categorised.

Artisan Housing – The Advantages;

  • Cost: a considerable part of the cost of starting a business is the rent or mortgage that must be paid on the premises even before any profits are generated; if the business premises are located within the main residence, only one rent or mortgage is involved. Saving the rental overhead will remove one of the biggest barriers to entry for business start-ups.
  • Transport: when a worker works at home the necessity to travel, especially at commuter times, is removed thereby reducing pressure on the road system.
  • Time: with the removal of the necessity to travel to work, the productive part of the working day can be extended by a significant period without any loss to the quality of life.
  • Flexibility and quality of life: working at home would enable the small business-person to work the long hours that are often required when self-employed without suffering the isolation caused by remote premises.
  • Family involvement: if a family business is located at home, the opportunity exists for the whole family to become involved, for example, performing support activities such as bookkeeping or local deliveries, which would further cut overhead costs.
  • Security: business premises that are attended full time are considerably less vulnerable to crime than unattended lock-up premises.
  • Complementary skills: the occupants of a group of Artisan Houses could offer complementary products and services to attract custom.
  • Mutual benefits: a group of self-employed artisans would be likely to create their own market sharing resources such as marketing or office services which would generate further business opportunities.
  • The Environment: because of the reduction in transport requirements, this scheme would be a positive benefit to the environment in terms of cutting overall traffic pollution as well as reducing the need to build roads in the longer term.

[1] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/9344366/Self-employment-hits-20-year-high-as-people-try-to-avoid-unemployment-ONS-says.html