About time we freed up planning permission then, eh?

According to the BBC, these images have been analysed and compared with detailed maps. Every different type of land has been awarded a classification and this permits scientists and environmentalists to obtain a snapshot of changing land use in the UK. Thus, conservationists can observe those areas that may be in danger of being swamped by the urban sprawl. Yet the urban sprawl hardly exists at all.

Actual built-on land in the UK comprises only around 6% of the total. The rest is made up of natural wilderness (35%), farmland (57%) and green urban areas (2.5%).

Not that us informed people didn’t know this already.

38 comments on “About time we freed up planning permission then, eh?

  1. ’people such as the poor, young and vulnerable mother of four who was found dead in a freezing home in Liverpool last week because her universal credit benefits were stopped.’

    Awa’ an boil ya heid, McKenna! She was a complex mental health patient who soaked up a plethora of taxpayer resources in her chaotic life, not some Dickens character..!

  2. @TMB

    Too many people? That’s OK, Corbyn’s got a plan for that.

    Also- when i did my planning post grad work, the built on figure was ~5%. Not massive change in nearly 20 years.

  3. “Yet the urban sprawl hardly exists at all.”

    Assuming we don’t want urban sprawl, this suggests that the system is working.

    That’s a big assumption though. Most other countries have sprawl, and seem no worse for it. On the other hand, the most desirable places have very little sprawl at all.

  4. Philip Scott Thomas – “where exactly is that extra 0.5% of land that those figures add up to?”

    Mostly Vibrants growing marijuana in their garden sheds? Hence both built on and yet farmland.

  5. Also- and to pick up in JuliaM’s theme:
    “fewer people would have recourse to the NHS if the state didn’t abuse their health and dignity in its day-to-day dealings with them”

    Is this the state that the Graun sees as the solution to everything? Can we ease pressure on the belov’d NHS by clearing out the welfare system and education?

  6. Julia M–“Mother of four”–she must have been solvent enough –or been kept solvent enough by taxpayers–to have 4 kids. Even if all four were conceived under hedges at a dosser camp they can hardly have been delivered in that manner.What was the Father(s) financial contribution(s)?

    Leftist bullshit all of it.

  7. Hang on- we could turn Ecks into the saviour of the NHS with little more than a whip round for a few miles of hemp.

    We should do this.

  8. The more I read of that farticle, the worse it gets:

    “57% of the country is owned by farmers. Do they really need that amount of land? I mean, how many farmers do we actually have in this country? It can’t be that many.”

    Sterling research there.

    “It’s not so long ago that many of them became rich overnight with compensation after the foot-and-mouth outbreak.”

    Yep- many of them were so rich, they killed themselves with joy when the government calculated the payments they were due for the loss of their livelihoods.

    “They keep telling us that farming is unsustainable; well, if that is the case then let’s nationalise the farms and open up more of their hallowed land for social housing too.”

    So- your answer to unproductive farms is twofold: give them to the government to run and build on them.

    Who is this moron?

  9. The obvious rebuke to this position is that fewer people would have recourse to the NHS if the state didn’t abuse their health and dignity in its day-to-day dealings with them: …. Or the thousands of people who have died throughout the UK after being deemed fit for work by the Department for Work and Pensions.

    I don’t know much about the provision of government services but I would expect that cutting people off from said services results in massive savings. Especially if they die.

    Now there are plenty of moral arguments against doing so, but the economic argument is pretty strong. Finding people able to work and forcing them back into the work force saves money. Even if they die.

  10. @SMFS

    “I don’t know much about the provision of government services but I would expect that cutting people off from said services results in massive savings.”

    I expect the gvt would find a way to fuck that proposition up. Spend millions on the downsizing and service withdrawal would be my starter for ten.

  11. “this permits scientists and environmentalists…”: glad to see we’re agreed that environmentalists aren’t scientists.

    “conservationists can observe …”: nor them.

  12. There’s an odd attitude about, even in traditional labour areas
    -GOOD: to build £5m of autos and sell to the Chinese, taxes on the consumption going to China
    -BAD: build a £5m stately pile here and sell it to the Chinese, taxes on the property and use going to the UK
    I don’t understand it. They seem to think that the 2nd doesn’t help pay that current a/c deficit, but the first does.

  13. Jesus, how many times do I have to point out to someone who doesn’t even live in the UK, that ‘not issuing enough planning permissions’ is not the main reason for high houses prices?

    You could issue planning permissions for the entire south of England, and it would have little effect on the price of houses (if you knew anything about what was going on in the UK right now you’d know that has pretty much happened, there’s building going on everywhere you look), because the houses will only get built when the cost of doing so is less than the revenue you can get from selling them. And the cost of building them is vastly inflated by the State decreeing all manner of things that must be done when building houses, and things that must be paid for out of the profits, via section 106 agreements, which has become a de facto land development tax. Effectively the State is saying you can have as much planning permission as you want, but for every acre you have we want hundreds of thousands in tax.

    So unless you can sell the houses for more than the cost of building them (plus infrastructure etc) plus the s.106 tax costs, plus the cost of the State imposed building regulations, then the houses don’t get built.

    I’ll give you an example. My own Local Authority granted itself planning permission for thousands of houses on land it owned back in the early 00s. Not one house has been built on that land yet, because the s.106 costs that were imposed on that application were so onerous that in the wake of the financial crash none of the house building companies could make the figures stack up. There’s land sat there ready for thousands of houses with an extant planning permission, but no building going on, because they can’t get enough from selling the houses to make a profit.

    Unless this side of the equation is addressed, just ‘issuing more planning chitties’ is going to have zero effect.

  14. This gives an idea of the value of land with and without planning permission in the South East.

    It’s not just the onerous social obligations that you mention Jim.

  15. ‘permits scientists and environmentalists to obtain a snapshot of changing land use in the UK. Thus, conservationists can observe those areas that may be in danger of being swamped by the urban sprawl.’

    Third parties. None of their fvcking business.

    Why not archeologists and historians? Give everyone a veto.

  16. Jim – Blackpool had some new houses built, part of the development agreement was money for a permanent pumping station nearby – the houses would otherwise have some streets flooded at high rainfall times. The developer paid money to the council as required for the pumping station.
    A few years later the local streets were flooded on that estate, a few houses were flooded too. Council demanded an investigation – turned out they didn’t spend money on a pumping station, none had been built.
    Has been since, and no floods. Money paid had simply been spent by the council…

  17. “They keep telling us that farming is unsustainable; well, if that is the case then let’s nationalise the farms and open up more of their hallowed land for social housing too.”

    State ownership of all land and cover it with council estates. Marvellous.

    Anyway, isn’t building on Green Belt land considered an environmental catastrophe? Why is building private houses there bad for the environment but council houses aren’t?

  18. Why are section 106 payments even a thing. If a bunch of houses are built then the local authority acquires extra revenue from the council tax, which should cover such items as upgraded sewage systems.
    And why are developers ( or actually housebuyers) required to fund archeological investigations. If the community wants them the community should pay for them.
    Of course this sort of stuff is in the same class as corporation tax and employers NI. The people who are actually out of pocket are fooled into thinking that someone else is paying.

  19. “It’s not just the onerous social obligations that you mention Jim.”

    Yes it is. Because the social obligations are fixed, while the cost of the land is subject to market forces. In the case of that guy, while he might be in line for £250m+, the local council will be demanding at least as much from the development in s.106 contributions, probably more. However many sites were approved in the area, the councils would still demand the same degree of ‘tax’ from each, thus meaning the price the developer needs to sell the houses at remains high. The social contributions have no market price. Increased supply of sites = increased demands for money.

    If on the other hand all the planning gain accrued to the landowner (who would of course be taxed on it),then issuing lots of planning permissions would rapidly collapse the market price of land with planning permissions, and reduce the price houses could be sold for at a profit. Its because the State is trying to capture a large proportion of the gain for itself that the price of development land remains so ‘sticky’ – indeed the State wants it that way, it would get no money if it just issued lots of permissions and didn’t try to tax them via s.106 agreements.

  20. @pat

    “Why are section 106 payments even a thing?”

    They are the primary way of adding social housing to local stocks, and by the state and its agents benefitting from the uplift in value created by planning permission.
    It was the settled approach created by thatcher after all previous attempts to profit through tax from the permissioning of development failed. Those efforts failed as typically revenue was too little as a proportion of the planning gain because developers had to find cash. Nowadays s106 payments take the form of houses developed on previously purchased land, built at the same time as the rest of the development.

    The value (to the LA) is higher than the cash cost, in other words. Everyone wins.

    @Jim- I have actually been involved in te negotiations you describe thus:

    “He might be in line for £250m+, the local council will be demanding at least as much from the development in s.106 contributions, probably more. However many sites were approved in the area, the councils would still demand the same degree of ‘tax’ from each,”

    I can tell you that it works nothing like that. Councils have a desired return from s106 over a period of time, the spoils of which are often parcelled out to local RSL’s to manage. The trick is to get in relatively early, make a reasonable offer to the LA- too soon, and the LA can shop round other developers. Too late and you’ll end up delivering more s106 properties as the other developers have struck a more advantageous deal before you.

    Developers can always sit on the land, remember: councillors have to deliver before the next elections… the idea that the LA has all the power is often far off the mark.

  21. “I can tell you that it works nothing like that. Councils have a desired return from s106 over a period of time, the spoils of which are often parcelled out to local RSL’s to manage. The trick is to get in relatively early, make a reasonable offer to the LA- too soon, and the LA can shop round other developers. Too late and you’ll end up delivering more s106 properties as the other developers have struck a more advantageous deal before you.”

    Nonsense. All s.106 agreements are published, and agreed payments by one developer form a basis for others to agree similar terms. If councils struck a sweet deal with developer A but then tried to make developer B pay twice as much per acre 6 months later there would soon be court cases flying around. The s.106 deals will be broadly comparable, in £ per acre terms, when comparing like with like – the s.106 contribution on industrial land will be less than that for housing land for example. But the s.106 agreed on Site A of 100 houses will be roughly the same as Site B with 100 houses, in the same local authority area. If it wasn’t the lawyers would be involved.

  22. Jim has it.

    Those complaining about a shortage of affordable housing should point their fingers at the state and its agencies.

    Just pulled a project to develop 52 properties as, even though we already own the land, we cannot see a way to make it pay given S.106’s, SANGs, etc, etc

  23. Actual built-on land in the UK comprises only around 6% of the total.

    Always suspect such statistics that quote values for the ‘UK’. The UK includes vast tracts of N Scotland that are essentially empty and (unaccountably) no-one is proposing we build new cities in Caithness and Sutherland.

    If you look at the area where people actually live* – SE England or the home counties – you need to treble this number. These areas are by far the most densely populated areas of their size in Europe and only significantly exceeded by a few places such as Bangladesh.

    * Or, if we don’t want to be too London-centric, a quadrilateral with apexes at Liverpool, York, Dover and Bristol.

  24. Jim/Recusant

    The bit of the process I was talking about was the LA setting their expected returns from 106 agreements across their area, and the process of deciding what to ask for.

    The expectations are partially informed by whatever the strategic area development plans are called nowadays.

    The LA I was dealing with wasn’t that concerned about challenge, as the sites they were talking about were sufficiently different.

  25. Compared to that article, I have to say that Murphy sounds almost moderate, organised and coherent in comparison.

  26. Chris Miller,

    The Netherlands and the Flanders half of Belgium are more densely populated than England. They seem to manage it better than we do.

  27. The solution, in part, is to forget about “affordable” housing.

    Every new house added to the market adds one house, whether it is “affordable” or not. Build a flash house and after a chain of people upgrading you are left with the one at the bottom for a poorer person. The costs of s.106 have zero effect on what the already built houses are worth. Provided it is cost effective to build the nice house, everyone wins.

    Rather than building piles of shit housing estates that will never be nice because they are “affordable”, developers should be encouraged to build expensive inner city apartments and developments for the rich.

    It’s how the poor get cars too. They would not be helped by a campaign to flood the market with “affordable” new cars. They buy their cars second hand, and because those cars were nice cars, they are as good as “affordable” new cars.

  28. It sounds like Chester Draws supports the building of lots of unaffordable housing
    ( because this means units near the bottom of the stack that were previously unaffordable become affordable).
    I like the reasoning.

  29. @Jim, November 12, 2017 at 11:48 am

    +1

    Another pernicious law(s) from the Blair/Brown/Prescott era the [not the] Conservatives should have abolished years ago.

  30. AndrewM: Flanders and the Netherlands have a higher population density (500/sq. km) than England as a whole (~400/sq. km). But South East England is more than double that (~1200/sq. km).

  31. …It basically blew the number one argument of the hard Brexiters out of the water: there is loads of space here and a lot of it can be used to house immigrants and their families without the slightest danger of them ever touching the sides…
    …Scotland is virtually a mountainous wilderness and England remains the green and pleasant land of Blake’s Jerusalem. It’s just that a great deal of Scotland is under the lock and key of fewer than 500 of the richest people on the planet. In England, meanwhile, the endless and wretched narrative of the hard right has settled over the land like a pox and convinced us that these islands are at bursting point with the dregs of humanity…

    Another pile of leftist anti-Brexit, anti “the rich” excrement.

    Most of GB is desolate hilly/mountainous areas where few want to live. The “fewer than 500 of the richest people on the planet” who own all locked up Scottish land know this, as does the author: “Scotland is virtually a mountainous wilderness”, but the insane hatred comes before inconvenient truths.

  32. The Netherlands and the Flanders half of Belgium are more densely populated than England. They seem to manage it better than we do.

    True but misleading, as I pointed out (and so, I see, has BiCR). The Netherlands is (almost) entirely flat and uniformly habitable; whereas England includes Cross Fell, N Yorks Moors, Dartmoor, Exmoor etc etc. If you choose an area round London the same size as the Netherlands or Belgium, it will contain more than twice as many people. And that’s where population growth is going on.

    You’ll really struggle to find a dozen places on Earth of equivalent size that are more densely populated than SE England. I’ll give you Bangladesh for starters.

  33. It’s just that a great deal of Scotland is under the lock and key of fewer than 500 of the richest people on the planet.

    London is under the control of four big estates (Grosvenor, Cadogan, Portman, Howard de Walden); yet that doesn’t stop immigrants from crowding ever more densely into the capital.

    Either way, we know perfectly well that none of the arrivals off the back of a lorry from Calais want to settle in the Cairngorns.

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