Architecture / Cities

Environmentally friendly mobile living

When I was younger I can remember going to stay with my second cousin Vanessa Matthews and being struck by the difference of her home and lifestyle. In the overgrown garden was a vegetable patch where she and her husband grew vegetables to help support themselves. The house was artistically disorganised but contained perhaps fewer belongings than the average home of a similar size. Apart from all this, what could be more appealing to a child than a pet rabbit in the house?

Food for Free by Richard Mabey, reported on by the Guardian, emphasises the importance of having an understanding of biology in foraging: “Become a bit of a botanist too, and learn your families. None of the cabbage family – with its huge variety of wild cresses and mustards – is poisonous; nor any wild grasses.”

Photo courtesy of Shaun Dunmall

Photo courtesy of Shaun Dunmall

Sustainable mobile homes

Although there are such things as sustainable mobile homes, not all mobile homes are by their nature environmentally friendly. However, as demonstrated by the way that Vanessa and Michael organise their lives, mobile homes can be a way of existing in greater harmony with the environment.

Mobile homes bill

Unfortunately it is not necessarily easy to live on a mobile home site at the moment. A new Government Bill that will affect owners is in the process of being passed. This Bill concerns site operators, their rights and the rights of those living on their sites. When I interviewed Vanessa she explained the importance of the new Bill for the sense of community that can exist on mobile home sites.

“It has been difficult for people from our site to sell their homes because it has gained a bad reputation in recent years. When you do sell, technically the site owner has to approve. This is known as ‘site blocking’ and is one of the things that the new law is aiming to prevent.”

She went on to explain that a lot has changed since they bought their mobile home (about 20 years ago) and that initially many of the people on the site were, like themselves, those who had sold their homes to capitalise on their assets. Then, and now, there were age restrictions on some sites, for example people have to be aged 55 or over. Many sites these days are more communal and have a greater cross section of society.

Mobile homes in London and beyond

Although Vanessa Matthews lives on the Battisford Park site, which is near Plymouth, the issues in this article are very relevant to those living in the London area, where there are several mobile home sites as well. Inner London has Riverside Mobile Home Park, situated in West Drayton, and Greenford Park Homes near Dorking. These are examples of sites in the leafier areas of Greater London.

By Olivia


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