Paul Kingsnorth is ignorant. Again.

One bit he gets right. The Normans were indeed efficient and ruthless conquerors.

But this bit I\’m afraid he\’s off with the fairies again:

Take house prices. According to the author Kevin Cahill, the main driver behind the absurd expense of owning land and property in Britain is that so much of the nation\’s land is locked up by a tiny elite.

Well, no. Not really: in fact this is simply wrong, entirely and totally.

Because land is not a major part of a house price. Therefore the cost of land isn\’t a major influence on the price of a house. And if that\’s true then who owns the land isn\’t an important issue when considering the price of housing.

We\’ve been through these numbers so many times before but once more into hte breach. Even in the south of England you can buy land for £10,000 a hectare or under. Under current planning law you have to put 14 houses on that plot.

So, the cost of land for a house is, to an acceptable level of accuracy here, £1,000.

This isn\’t expensive and it\’s not the Norman Dukes and Earls, nor their descendants, holding us all to ransom.

A house costs in the region of £120k to build (get a reasonable 3 bedder for that). Thus the production cost of a 3 bedroomed house in hte south of England should be around £121k. They actually cost £300k and up.

The difference is of course the scarcity value. But it\’s not the scarcity of the land: we\’ve only built on some 10% of the country (that includes everything, from playing fields to roads, factories and houses). Houses themselves are more like 3% of the place.

It\’s the scarcity of ther planning permission that allows you to build a house on the land. Easy enough to prove: just look at the difference in value of land without such permission and with it.

I recall a case from a few years ago. Little strip of land in a London park. There has been houses on it pre-WWII. Under post WWII legislation anything that had been wiped out by the bombing had planning permission to be rebuilt. Local council, who had absorbed this land into the park, insisted that that was nonsense, that they weren\’t going to allow rebuilding.

This went through the court system and the final outcome was: as part of the park, without planning permission, the land was worth £15,000 (numbers from memory here). With the planning permission that the court agreed the law insisted the land had, £1.5 million.

See? It\’s the planning permission that provides the value, not Norman era land holdings.

Which means that the tiny elite which make housing expensive is not the landed familes, it is rather all those greasy little fuckers in the council planning departments. Hang them and housing will get cheaper.

9 comments on “Paul Kingsnorth is ignorant. Again.

  1. So private ownership is irrelevant? Because I could have sworn there’s land aplenty that can’t be built on for two reasons – one being the planning permission issue, but the other being that it’s owned by people who won’t let it be built on whether PP is obtained or not.

    Not that I disagree with the contention that PP is too hard to get, or that I want my own land built on.

    By the way, what kind of guy spends six months in the Bodleian researching a novel that he still hasn’t written four years later?

  2. Agree 100% house prices are high because there is an artificial shortage of land to build on caused by planning control.

    The key driver of planning control seems to be a desire to prevent wealth creation (envy) under the pretence of protecting insects, plants and small furry creatures that in the absence of envy nobody would give a damn about

  3. The greasy little so and sos in the planning department are only implementing laws and policies laid down by parliament and the local council. Hanging them is unlikely to change the situation. Voting differently might, but nimbyism is popular – I certainly wouldn’t vote for major new housing development near me – would you?

  4. Property is, on average, much cheaper in Scotland than in the south of England, yet it is in Scotland where the nobs own huge acreages.

  5. “Just 0.3% of the population – 160,000 families – own two thirds of the country. Less than 1% of the population owns 70% of the land”

    This is rubbish as the largest landowners are State bodies (MoD, Forestry Commission, Crown Estate), Charities (National Trust, RSBP), Utilities, and Pension Funds.
    The aristocracy have some, but mainly in places of low land value (Scotich highlands etc).

    In populated areas local authoritys are particually bad on holding onto empty properties (the the empty home report) http://www.emptyhomes.com/statistics-2/

  6. England = approx 30,000,000 acres. If a typical farm is 300 acres (probably a bit bigger in fact), then one would expect 100,000 farming families to own all of it (assuming yeoman farmers). So kingsnorth is correct (often he’s not).

    So if land ownership is bad in the UK we would expect far fewer than 100,000 families to own most of it.

    Not saying that some landed cunts don’t own too much, just running some numbers assuming yeoman farmers.

  7. Abolishing zoning (as opposed to building control, which is also part of planning permission) would not bring the price of development land down to that of other land.

    That £1000 is artifically lowered by the lack of planning permission; it would be higher if pp were available.

    There is still some land that will be worth much more than other land, notably anything in a city.

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