That housing paper

Likewise its insistence that, “Up-to-date plans are essential because they provide clarity to communities and developers about where homes should be built and where not, so that development is planned rather than the result of speculative applications,” is little different to Nicolas Maduro insisting he knows what the correct price of rice in Caracas is.

30 comments on “That housing paper

  1. The benefit system doesn’t help. If people who don’t work in London but want to live there are giving free housing in London, it will make the lack of housing worse.
    If we have unsalable housing in Liverpool and unemployable people in London, the solution should be obvious.

  2. But people in London on benefits are fleeing DV or traffickers and it’s easiest to protect them in our biggest and most anonymous city. And London has doctors and hospitals and schools that children are settled in.
    And the unemployment rate in the London boroughs is now just above the national average. Err, hang on – set the LHAs in London at the same levels as Yorkshire and let’s rock.

  3. There are two large obstacles to a properly-functioning housing market:

    (1) Stamp duty prevents people at the higher end of the market from moving.
    (2) Housing Association / Council Housing prevents people at the lower end of the market from moving.

    Fix those two, and the market will go a long way towards righting itself.

  4. …its insistence that, “Up-to-date plans are essential because they provide clarity to communities and developers about where homes should be built and where not, so that development is planned rather than the result of speculative applications,” is little different to Nicolas Maduro insisting he knows what the correct price of rice in Caracas is.

    Bollocks! It’s a lot different, (a) because the planning is local not central, (b) because the market still has a major role – with developers being consulted about and contributing to local plans and (c) because it is a democratically accountable system – unlike either the NHS or Venezuela’s price controls.

    In our densely populated island, planned development is necessary for civilised life. A free-for-all in development often would result in – for example – traffic congestion, sewage problems, habitat loss and/or loss of amenities.

  5. You just have to read one of these plans to realise how ridiculously Stalinist the whole thing is.

    Apparently my local area will need exactly 27 family homes in 2026. I hope they can also tell me who is going to win the Grand National that year…

    There is no real market in property, and there won’t be as long as the system works in this manner.

    I’m not totally opposed to regulation, simply because what is done with real estate has significant externalities.

    But I also think it’s almost a crime against ourselves to deny a decent quality and affordability of shelter to ourselves. No-one celebrates when our food, water and heating gets more expensive and of poorer quality, and housing should not be that different.

  6. Council Housing prevents people at the lower end of the market from moving.

    I assume that if you are a council tennant and you move to another city for work, you’ll end up at the bottom of the queue for council housing? How does the system work?

  7. Apparently my local area will need exactly 27 family homes in 2026.

    They have no fucking idea how many are needed in August, let alone 2026. Absurd.

  8. Yes, council housing, across council boundaries, is markedly less mobile than home ownership, let alone private rental

  9. You wonder why Lefties like Owen Jones want a massive increase in council housing, if it just keeps people locked in deprived areas. Only a cynical person would see ill in that.

  10. There needs to be some future planning for housing development just so the externalities of that development is also planned for. I’m just starting a local government review which would be impossible to do without knowing that Area A has permits for 800 houses to be built and Area B has permits for 1300 houses to be built. Most of these have the diggers on site but we have to plan for something to see through the next 20 years where the diggers are still ten years away.

    Naturally, in 20 years we will do another review and pick up the slack that has crept into the system over time, which will always happen as long as humans move around and breed.

  11. My query regarding planned housing would be why the insistence upon “affordable” i.e., tiny inhospitable, housing?

    Surely if they expand the supply of mid-level housing, i.e. good old three and four bed semis, then everything below that gets more affordable anyway, and more people get to live in more spacious houses.

  12. Making rabbit hutch homes has little to do with true affordability. The additional cost of providing them ends up as a huge hidden tax to the real market units.

    I get so angry with the demands for more council homes, because it shouldn’t require the council to bust through a problem created by the same council.

    The sad fact is that a huge proportion of people who end up trapped in rental or in state housing would actually be perfectly capable of servicing the finance required to buy land and build a house.

    They just can’t afford to buy land that you are allowed to build on, because the supply is greatly restricted

  13. +1 for magnusw – we need to allow a major unaffordable house building programme to happen. Then everyone moves up a rung, and we all live happier lives.

  14. Theophrastus – “In our densely populated island, planned development is necessary for civilised life. A free-for-all in development often would result in – for example – traffic congestion, sewage problems, habitat loss and/or loss of amenities.”

    Japan is even more densely populated and they seem to get by just fine. Why do you think the sky is going to fall on your head if we don’t corrupt local councils by making them play footsie with developers? What is the evidence?

    Traffic congestion, sewage problems, habitat loss and/or loss of amenities? You mean we don’t have those already? Planning is doing such a pathetic job of making Britain a nicer place to live it is impossible to believe that getting rid of it could be worse.

  15. Surely such things as traffic and sewage can be planned for?
    Developer builds a thousand houses together in an area they are not going to leave the sewage to run into the garden.

    Currently the NIMBYs cause problems for developers, councils have their own issues and no matter what the government promises the developers still have problems.

    The ‘affordable’ houses may indeed be affordable. To a few.
    We looked at some new houses a few years back, 3 bed houses were effectively one bedroom, one child’s room and an airing cupboard. Small was definitely included in the planning of those houses. I dread to think what the two bedroom houses were like.
    There are some new houses not far from me being built, from £119k. Which maybe a young couple with very good jobs could afford, single person not so much. Wait for a housing bubble burst and get the same property for £80k or less.

  16. On the demand side of this, the elephant in the room is immigration. Plenty has been said on that already.

    But haven’t we also had an increase in people living alone? Maybe that should be addressed.

    For example, a single bloke with a bit of property would be batshit to let a girlfriend move in these days.

    Likewise someone going into a marriage with more wealth than the other party. Perhaps we should look at protection for the wealth that someone goes into a marriage with (and also, if it ends, what they acquire afterward).

    Maybe we could buy a bit of time by making cohabitation and marriage less risky.

  17. Martin

    “Wait for a housing bubble burst and get the same property for £80k or less.”

    Not sure how currently, as in “basic supply and demand” (ie what Cyinc said)

  18. “Surely such things as traffic and sewage can be planned for?
    Developer builds a thousand houses together in an area they are not going to leave the sewage to run into the garden.”

    Its not the developer building 1000 houses thats going to be the problem, they by definition are going to have to build their own new infrastructure. The problem is the small agglomeration of developments onto existing infrastructure, which eventually collapses under the weight. The sewerage system for an area might currently support 100 houses. You could add 10 or 20 and perhaps it would be OK. Then you add just a few more and it stops working for everyone, and there’s sewage everywhere. Who pays to solve it? Wouldn’t it be better to demand that the people building the extra 10-20 houses to start with pay something towards additional capacity (and getting it installed) so that we don’t end up at a position where everyone has overflowing toilets? Which is what happens now – you have to pay towards local infrastructure costs for just one or two additional houses.

  19. SMFS

    “Japan is even more densely populated and they seem to get by just fine”

    Japan has a much more restrictive planning system than the UK.

    “What is the evidence?”

    The externalities of development.

    “Planning is doing such a pathetic job of making Britain a nicer place to live…”

    A free-for-all would be worse. And, in any event, your point is an argument in favour of more and better planning, not less.

    Martin:

    “Surely such things as traffic and sewage can be planned for?
    Developer builds a thousand houses together in an area they are not going to leave the sewage to run into the garden.”

    In a free-for-all, developers could connect an estate to a sewage system that is not capable of taking effluent from 100 extra homes, and then just walk away. With planning, they have to contribute to upgrading the sewage system. Ditto, roads. It’s all about externalities.

  20. Theophrastus – “Japan has a much more restrictive planning system than the UK.”

    News to me. In fact I would think there is considerable evidence to the contrary:

    http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2016/08/laissez-faire-in-tokyo.html

    “The externalities of development.”

    That is not evidence. It is not even a good argument. There are externalities to not developing too.

    “A free-for-all would be worse. And, in any event, your point is an argument in favour of more and better planning, not less.”

    How do you know it would be worse? It was better when we had much less planning. The best parts of Britain were built a long time before planning came along. The worst parts were designed by smart planners.

    “In a free-for-all, developers could connect an estate to a sewage system that is not capable of taking effluent from 100 extra homes, and then just walk away.”

    Sorry but why do you think that? If you damage someone else’s property, you have to pay. Even if that property is someone else’s sewer. What is more you ignore the far more common situation where developers cannot build at all even though the sewer system could cope with a lot more.

    “With planning, they have to contribute to upgrading the sewage system. Ditto, roads. It’s all about externalities.”

    No. With planning they are prevented from contributing to those things. Planning has nothing whatsoever to do with these externalities. These factors are justifications, not actual real things.

  21. magnusw,

    > Surely if they expand the supply of mid-level housing, then everything below that gets more affordable anyway

    Yes, but if you have an acre of land, you can either build twenty rabbit hutches or four proper homes. Building the rabbit hutches makes more housing available faster, and meets the target (“number of people in their own home”) faster. Picture yourself at age 30 with a steady girlfriend and looking to settle down: would you rather have a rabbit hutch today or a big home in fifteen years’ time?

  22. Oh dear, oh dearie me. Tory incompetents , having hit on, forty years ago, a cunning plan of buying votes by hooking the middle class on tax- free capital gains from the houses they also live in, confess that the game’s up and their “market is broken”..
    In a properly ordered society the perpetrators of this scam would be arraigned for malfeasance.
    And another thing: I have been proved right all along! Thought that would cheer you up. Must stop now for another bout of ill-natured laughter.

  23. TW

    The japanese system of zoning is not a laissez-faire system. It’s a different type of planning; but it’s still planning. Sure, you may have considerable freedom to do what you want within a designated zone; but the restrictions outside the zone are as strict or stricter than in the UK – and the national framework is more rigid in Japan. This is directed development, not a free-for-all. I am in favour of lifting most planning restrictions in certain zones — much of Teeside, for example.

    SMFS

    “Sorry but why do you think that? If you damage someone else’s property, you have to pay. Even if that property is someone else’s sewer.”

    Is overloading a sewer the same as damaging it? Is overloading a road damaging the road and/or houses in the neighbourhood? Scope for years of litigation there. Far better to plan in advance. One of the advantages of planning is that it prevents and preempts much litigation and/or violence about such matters.

    “It was better when we had much less planning. The best parts of Britain were built a long time before planning came along.”

    They are the best because the areas were owned and developed by aristocrats subscribing to the Rule of Taste, and the population was homogeneous in its tastes, beliefs and assumptions. And these best parts of the UK remain so because they are protected by planning restrictions.

    “The worst parts were designed by smart planners.”

    Up to a point. But bad planning is not an argument for no planning – any more than bad policing is an argument for no policing.

  24. Start building new council houses whilst selling off the old houses (older than 15years), give the Thatcherite discounts to existing tenants but allow them to buy a house in any area that has them for sale.
    Over time there will be no council houses older than 15 at which point you can start to sell off and replace any that are 10 years or more, then 5.
    Councils would replace all their old and expensive to maintain housing with modern new stuff.
    This is the model that Avis use with vans, seems to work for them and they don’t rent vans more than 3 years old.

  25. “If you damage someone else’s property, you have to pay.”

    Good luck with suing that British Virgin Island holding company that built the houses next to yours and who just plumbed all the storm water into the existing sewers resulting in your house flooding with sewerage every time it rains a bit.

  26. Perhaps UK Gov’t should abolish their recent law on minimum bedroom size that can be rented.

    You know, like allow the renter to choose the small cheap third bedroom in many Victorian and later properties.

    Millions more bedrooms available to rent again.

    TBH sounds like an EU inspired law – more regulation, less choice.

  27. Have to disagree for once. Local plans are nothing like as prescriptive as you imagine.

    All the plan effectively says for my town is, you can’t build to the West because of the conservation area, and we’d really rather you didn’t build in the North East because the roads, sewers and schools are already stressed, but here’s some land to the North and South that we’d look upon favourably, given the right scheme.

    If a developer then comes along with a good scheme for the North East, and lobs in a bunch of money to upgrade the road, replace the trunk sewer and build an extra classroom, it’s not going to get automatically kicked out.

    Jim’s point on the problem of incrementalism is well made. Every so often a small development will breach a tipping point in some area. Those are the buggers to deal with. If you see it coming, you can try and make the developer pay, but that may be unfair and/or render the scheme uneconomic. So who pays ? Worse still is when the tipping point is only realised afterwards – that can take years of disruption to fix.

  28. One must also remember that the argument ‘well all the old houses were built under a free for all, and they’re all fine’ is based on the fact that only the bits that worked still survive, and any problems caused by unregulated development have been solved, probably by a bit of central organisation. At the time there may have been all manner of jerry built houses that just collapsed, or caused horrendous problems for existing houses, we just don’t know about all that because it all happened long ago. Plus of course there were less services needed for houses, no running water, no sewers, no power supplies, no road network for vehicles. Now a house will require X parking spaces and generate Y vehicle movements per week, need A cubic meters of water per year, B cubic meters of sewerage provision, C kW of energy per year, plus provision for extra school places and GP/hospital services. Not really the same as building a house in a field in 1850.

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