July 28th, 2005

Things wot I do not understand, part 94

Warning: the subject of house prices is raised below so you may want to stop reading. However in mitigation I should point out they are raised in the spirit of scientific enquiry rather than speaking from personal experience or concerning anywhere I want to buy, sell, fold, spindle or mutilate a house.

Also, it is about Oxford so if you have no connection with the city may get bored pretty quickly.

Having said that, I have a question for the multitudes... whilst t__m__i has been having exciting things done to her hair in North Parade, I have been wandering the byways of Oxford, including the new housing developments by the canal, got to via Walton Well Road, Aristototototototole Lane and Frenchay Road. Looking in estate agents' windows and checking prices on line I see that there are plenty of houses in these new developments in the 350K range and above. There are plenty of 'terraced' houses (according to the website I am looking at) at that sort of price, and the large detached houses are going for a cool 750K. So the questions are
a) given the enormous explosions of housing development in Oxford over the last 10 or so years, what do all these people do for a living? Has there really been such an expansion of local business or commuting? Surely the number of commuters by rail cannot have significantly changed?
b) specifically, what do they do such that they can afford these houses?
c) how can this conceivably be sustainable? Please show your working, I would prefer to see a mathematical model but I will settle for a few equations.

The roads are spookily empty and quiet. They make our suburbs of Abingdon seem positively vibrant by comparison. I don't think I have ever met anyone living in these areas which makes me suspicious that the houses are full of aliens teleporting to their lucrative Zqznguqx trading desks in the financial markets of planet Zarg taking advantage of the relatively cheap houses on Earth, but then again I am an antisocial bastard which is probably a more realistic explanation of why I have never met anyone living there.

Also, today I was slightly needled by a fact that there is a gate between the canal patch and this development with a keypad i.e. only those 'in the know' can get from the canal path into this area despite the fact that there is public access to both sides of the gate. Obviously I would have been more needled had I actually wanted to go through the gate.

Another mystery is the foot and cycle path between, broadly speaking, the end of Walton Well Road once you have crossed the canal and the railway to the new O.U. graduate accommodation by the railway sidings accessed from Botley Road (Castle Mill). This has gates that can be locked and notices saying that it is locked from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. Now, I can see why people might not want to go down there at night - prime mugging territory, perhaps? - but why would it actually be locked at night? This is just a footpath by the railway line so I don't think the obvious comparisons with other things owned by the University or Colleges make sense.

I notice, by the way, that, in deciding whether to put up a residents' notice-board in the new development, the council considered the Human Rights Act 1998 and Section 17 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998.
See here (PDF file).

Yawn, time for bed.