Campaign to protect rural England? Pah!

It\’s the campaign to boost urban landlord\’s rents.

The vast majority of green belt is open countryside, still rural in character despite being close to London, Birmingham and other cities. This “ordinary countryside” is as precious as our great national parks but it is under serious attack, from day-to-day planning proposals and from a Chancellor who is too ready to blame planning for bigger economic difficulties. It is down to Eric Pickles — backed, I hope, by the Prime Minister — to live up to the Government’s commitments and act to save the green belt.

The actual effect of the green belt is to boost rents for those who own land inside it. London\’s green belt aids in making the Duke of Westminster, Earl Cadogan, Viscount Chelsea rich.

8 comments on “Campaign to protect rural England? Pah!

  1. It doesn’t make any noticeable difference to the three peers whom you mention. Mayfair, Chelsea, Cadogan Square were all built long before the introduction of the Green Belt or the Attlee government’s planning controls.
    What it did (and does) is vastly enrich the property speculators building middle-class housing within commuting distance of jobs or even just “winning” planning permission so that someone else can build houses. Another side-effect is two generations of young people having to move out of easy reach of their families because they cannot find or cannot afford housing where they grew up.

  2. john77, both estates still own lots of property, mostly let on long leases. So even though they were developed long ago, they still get a slug of capital from each property every few decades when the lease is renewed or extended.

  3. “the Duke of Westminster, Earl Cadogan, Viscount Chelsea”

    I’ve never checked but I get the feeling they also get a hefty subsidy from the common agricultural policy.

  4. I’ll think you’ll find that Cadogan and Chelsea are the same person, although Viscount Chelsea is used as a courtesy title by his eldest son.

    Still we can add Howard de Walden, Portman, Russell, etc., etc..

  5. As I keep pointing out, if the intention is to save the Green Belt, and countryside in general, there’s an easy solution: build a new city. Low density suburban housing sprawls across a large area, but with decent densities – not Honk Kong style – you can fit all the new housing we need into a block a handful of miles on each side – say 30 sq mi, which is five by six, or eight(ish) by four. Plonk it outside the Green Belt but fairly close to London, build a high speed rail link, and there’s almost zero impact on the countryside.

    Density is clearly very important. A suburb the size of Barnet has about 350k inhabitants on an area of land the same size as Hong Kong manages to get seven million into. We don’t need to go that far, but I think it’s far less invasive to build a single fifty- or 100-storey block holding 100,000 people and surrounded by ten square miles of parkland than to build a new town for them on the same area of land.

  6. Did anyone expect anything else from a paper where a previous editor was the mouthpiece in chief for the Campaign to Protect Rich Estates.

    Got to keep those peasants in their place….

  7. @Richard #3
    My point was that Mayfair and Chelsea do not depend upon the shortage of middle-/lower-class housing around London for their value but upon the number of rich/yuppies who specifically want to live there. The competition (apart from Bishop’s Avenue) tends to change from decade to decade I can remember Ealing Village, Holland Park, The City’s Barbican estate, Notting Hill, Docklands and Islington being briefly fashionable alternatives.
    @ Dave
    I think it is called Milton Keynes …
    Seriously, if you build a new city, you need local sources of employment, especially for mums working part-time during school hours but also for anyone whose working hours and/or salary just would not be worth it if he/she had to commute. So it isn’t just the housing, it’s also the business parks, the schools, the local government offices, shops, doctors, dentists, etc.
    I agree that higher density housing would be eminently sensible – unfortunately it is illegal thanks to Attlee’s good intentions and his Town and Country Planning Act which sets a pretty low maximum housing density.

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