Nick Herbert is an innumerate tosspot

Everyone knows it. The countryside is integral to the definition of Britain. It is indelibly part our heritage. It is a national asset that should be prized. So why are we so criminally casual about its loss?

The vandalism of rural Britain isn\’t happening with ordered precision. Each year, an area of countryside the size of Southampton is covered with concrete. But we aren\’t building inspiring new towns or green cities.

No, this loss is horribly random. Dismal, identikit developments disfigure historic market towns. Precious green spaces between villages are thoughtlessly destroyed. We are told not to worry, that only a few percentage points of countryside will be lost.

Housing covers about 3% of England. If we were to lose \”a few percentage points\” of the countryside to housing then we would double the housing stock of the country. That isn\’t what is happening and it isn\’t what anyone is proposing.

And this seriously grates too:

England saw once before what random development would mean for the countryside. The great construction of the 1930s, which created millions of new homes, finally alarmed politicians when they saw that the suburban sprawl would not stop. The Town and Country Planning Act 1947 was brought in to end the era of unplanned development.

And where is it that people like living? What brings a good price? Those very ribbon developments that no one is allowed to build anymore. Because our Lords and Masters, most especially those who own the land inside the Green Belts, would prefer that we don\’t get to live as we would wish to, but as they insist we should.

Cunts the lot of them and they\’ve found their willing chamberpot carrier in the Conservative MP for Arundel and South Downs. Mind the stench Mr. Herbert: it sticks.

15 comments on “Nick Herbert is an innumerate tosspot

  1. Without Betjeman-type rapture about suburbia, those 30s developments did not seem all that detrimental to the nation, unlike the LeCorbusier style 60’s towering hell-holes produced by the socialism-lite (=fascism) of council scum and crook developers.

  2. This seems a common trope amongst Tory MPs.
    Up here in the north, my MP and local conservatives fetishise the green belt, ferociously oppose virtually every housing development, seem to consider it immoral for a landowner to make money by selling land for housing, oppose large developers, and support every NIMBY group. As a result there is virtually no building, and local house prices have continued to rise, pricing most people out of the market.
    Funnily enough, the MP’s other main hobby-horse is the decline of the town centre. It seems to be beyond his comprehension that shops would be helped by
    a) more people living in the town, and
    b) those who did live in the town not having to spend all their money putting a roof over their heads.

  3. You would have thoght that “Google maps satellite view” would have stopped this false conception that England is covered in houses.

  4. “Everyone knows it. The countryside is integral to the definition of Britain.” completely vacuouse statement. If it is not wilderness then its form must be partly man made from its use for somethning.

  5. Alex,

    The whole point of the Conservatives was about owning land, extracting rent and protection of those interests, and for many voters, that’s what they also want.

    But it’s not just them. it’s also that in many well-off areas where you pay a premium for the view or the exclusivity, they expect that premium to be at least preserved.

  6. People want to choose where to live. If they want to live in the country, with all that noise from the dawn chorus, church bells, etc, why not?
    I suggest we can kill two birds with one stone by allowing farmers one single dwelling planning consent each ten years so long as they renounce their subsidies.

  7. @ Tim Almond

    “it’s also that in many well-off areas where you pay a premium for the view or the exclusivity, they expect that premium to be at least preserved.”

    The response to this, of course (hat tip to Mark Wadsworth) is that if these people paid a premium for a view, and that view is taken away, then they should go back to whomever sold it and demand a refund. They will soon find that the view was not the sellers to sell, and that the contract of sale made no mention of it.

  8. Isn’t an answer therefore for some of the benefits of new homes to go to those affected? I suspect that many people who would oppose a new estate nearby may change their mind if the result of approval was 10% off their council tax for 5 years. Surely a better use of money than the builders paying for yet another underused leisure centre.

  9. @Alex
    But if you think about it, that exactly what should be happening anyway.. Rural services are relatively expensive to provide. Or that’s what they always tell us, isn’t it? So if there’s a new estate built there should be economy of scale & council taxes should fall.

  10. @ Alex

    Do we also get to send them a bill when the value of their properties go up because of what happens around them?

    They’re building new tram line in Nottingham, and homes along the route have had a 10% value bump… funded mainly by taxpayers elsewhere in the city.

    An LVT, of course, could do the job of sharing both increases and decreases in value with the homeowner. So maybe that’s the practical face of your suggestion.

  11. > the benefit allready goes to those affected. Property development increases the the value of extant property. That is the natue of land economics.

  12. If housing only covers 3% of england ( ? this includes roads, schools , car parks etc) maybe a few more million immigrants can fill up some of the vacant space.
    And as more people are recent migrants there will be no need for sentimentality – so pull down stone henge and up with some residences.

  13. The whole point of the Conservatives was about owning land, extracting rent and protection of those interests, and for many voters, that’s what they also want.

    That’ll be why the Tories passed the Town and Country Planning Act of 1947 to keep the proles from building houses wherever they wanted.

    Oh, hang on, sorry, that was Labour.

    The reality is that you have a vile pact between Tories wanting to keep the riff-raff out of their villages and Labour wanting to stuff the riff-raff into Stalinist tower blocks. Neither party has any desire to let people live the way they want to live.

  14. @Alex, the argument fails on two points. Firstly the subsidy comes from the evil EU, so it’s at least something back to the “nation” that pays into the pot. Secondly, presumably changing the purpose of the land from agricultural to residential results in the subsidy being withdrawn anyway.

    Sorry to be such a pendant.

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