Oh my!

More than 1,500 square miles of land — more than twice the area of Greater London — needs to be earmarked for new homes to solve Britain’s housing crisis, the planning minister will say today.

Gosh, that is a lot, isn\’t it? As much as 1% of the country.

“In the UK and England we’ve got about 9 per cent of land developed. All we need to do is build on another 2-3 per cent of land and we’ll have solved a housing problem.”

That\’s developed at all: that\’s all factories, all housing, all roads. Going from 91% undeveloped to 89% undeveloped will be the very death of all that is green and lovely, won\’t it?

“Land is expensive but to some extent [developers] are just lazy. They didn’t talk to local people or get involved enough. But also it’s just bloody expensive to build because land is expensive,” he said.

Ah, no, you\’re wrong there. Land is cheap. £10k a hectare or so. It\’s land that you\’re allowed to build on that\’s expensive. That scarcity value of planning permission.

22 comments on “Oh my!

  1. £10k a hectare? £4k an acre or thereabouts? I haven’t checked recently, but can you still buy land for that, other than going way up to Scotland or somewhere else that no-one wants to live?

  2. Unlike Richard I’m on the intarwebs, so was able to check the price. Around here (Northants) according to this it’s £6000 per acre, which is something or other per hectare.

    If only I had some kind of calculating device to hand, I could work it out.

  3. Up near me (so Richard might find himself too far from the British Library. Or Soho. Or wherever):

    With planning permission: 650k to 800k per acre.

    Almost certain to get planning permission: 100k per acre.

    Active farm land and unlikely to get planning permission (extreme flood risk): 4k per acre.

  4. OK, yes, Ian, I was being idle.

    And actually Tim’s not too far off, having had a quick look on rightmove (OK, asking prices, not selling price) for round here (Dorset):

    £22m per acre for a single plot with planning permission (yes, m not k; special location there);

    £14,300 per acre for farmland with “development potential” on the edge of a town;

    £6 to £7.5k for land “on the edge of a village” – not sure if that’s trying to hint at development potential or just easy access for horsey people;

    £5,250 per acre for farmland without even a hint of development potential but with road access;

    £4,750 for a plot near the one above, but with only bridleway access.

  5. The farmland figures mentioned above are too low. Bare agricultural land with no hope of development and in large blocks with no house is worth £6-7K/acre in S England. In Wales its worth 4-5K even. Small pony paddocks next to villages (with no hope of development inside decades) are still worth £10-20K/acre. Land with potential for development on the edge of towns is worth precisely what you can get someone to part hard cash for – there is no real market, as most people with land in those situations are sitting tight.

    Development values – it depends how you value it. Once land has planning permission (but is still bare fields) it goes up in value yes. But there are massive costs associated with getting to a stage where you have serviced plots with roads, drainage and services etc. And all that comes off the value of the land, so the net payment to the landowner is actually much lower. Industrial land (ie for factories/warehouses etc) is worth a net £200k-ish. Housing development land is worth more, but the value depends heavily on how many houses per acres have been allowed, what money the local authority have been bribed with (sorry, donated under a section 106 agreement), and the costs of that specific site (road junctions, drainage etc). Probably £2-300K net to the landowner.

  6. Jim,

    Dunno why you think those agri figures were too low – as I said, up by me – but if I had the cash and desire, I could be the owner, tomorrow or close to it, of just about 33 acres of farmland, 2/3rds of it wheatfield, 1/3 arable pasture, for £135k. Straight off a local solicitors’ firm advert.

  7. Y’know, I’m sure one of the commenters round here has a bee in his bonnet about high-density housing being a necessity to solve the housing crisis. Build high-rise instead of little boxes, and if we only cut the land requirements by two-thirds it’ll be because we left lots of open space.

  8. The UK may be 91% undeveloped but that’s an average of the whole country including the vast barren wastes north of Edinburgh/Glasgow.

    Pretty sure Surrey isn’t 91% undeveloped.

    Though having said that am always amazed how much green there is down below whilst circling over Gatwick.

  9. …agricultural land with no hope of development and in large blocks with no house is worth £6-7K/acre in S England. In Wales its worth 4-5K even.

    Presumably Welsh land is discounted because it’s on a 45 degree angle.

  10. Shinesei: this is one of those cases where getting over intuition and trusting evidence is good. Getting any plane over SE England highlights how empty SE England is – not compared to Scotland or Australia or Siberia, sure, but compared to the bits that one sees when one is on the ground.

    (we think SE England is mostly built up, or at least villages, or at least paths, because that’s how we experience it, because that’s where we live and where we go).

    My Welsh grandparents had a fine teatowel saying “if Wales were flattened out it’d be bigger than England”.

  11. Dave: in the boring-but-expected satellite/map way. Obviously, value then depends on quite how vertical it is, but you’d be amazed at the angles of foothill at which lots of grass can grow and sheep can thrive.

  12. “My Welsh grandparents had a fine teatowel saying “if Wales were flattened out it’d be bigger than England”.”

    Indeed, but you have to flatten the land to build a house. So a slope doesn’t actually provide any greater building area.

    If you build on a slope you can have three storeys at the back but one storey at the front.

    Look at Bath or Edinburgh.

  13. John B>

    Forgive me if I’m missing something obvious, but every way I can think of seems to have problems. What should I ‘expect’ the map/satellite way to be?

  14. Dave (#12), wasn’t that one of the earlier Greek EU fiddles? They were claiming much more in agricultural subsidies because hilly land has a larger area (compared to the satellite mapping) than flat land.

    True of course, but allegedly not by anything like as much as they were claiming.

  15. Presumably it’s actually measured as “flat”from maps and satellites, so the actual amount of land you traverse if you walk across it is, for a 45 degree angle, the official area X root 2.

  16. @SE: depends where you are. If thats anywhere south of Birmingham and the land is half decent, and not a virtual swamp, then thats a very good deal. You won’t get land round my way (Wiltshire) for less than 6K min.

  17. If the price differential between land with and without planning permission is ~100:1, why isn’t there massive corruption?
    Either you Brits are a lot more honest, or a lot more devious, than people in the rest of the world.

  18. If the price differential between land with and without planning permission is ~100:1, why isn’t there massive corruption?

    Historically, there has been. But given the heavily balkanised nature of local politics and the fact that local councillors weren’t paid until recently, it’s been alleged that it was at the level of brown envelopes stuffed with tenners rather than yachts in the Caribbean.

Leave a Reply

Name and email are required. Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>