Disaster for the Green Belt!

Research by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has revealed local authorities which are attempting to redraw the boundaries of Green Belts in their areas to make way for new housing.

Analysis of local development plans drawn up by councils have revealed that swathes of land will be \”redesignated\” to allow the development of more than 74,500 new houses.

My word!

Appalling isn\’t it?

The area designated as green belt land in England as at 31 March 2010 was estimated at 1,639,560 hectares, about 13 per cent of the land area

The green belt is larger than the entire built up area of England. Anyone wonder why housing is so expensive?

At planning densities (14 per hectare) this means the conversion of perhaps 5,000 hectares of scrubland into housing. An entire 0.3% of the total.

Horrific, isn\’t it, the way they want to concrete over this green and pleasant land?

14 thoughts on “Disaster for the Green Belt!”

  1. You make it sound simple.
    Firstly is not the price of housing in part due to beaurocratic demands.
    secondly – knowing the socialist trends of the UK – are you really sure they wont plant ‘housing estates’ for the riotous there. Plus shopping malls etc. It has the spite and envy that would appeal to many politicians.
    And tourism might wilt a bit. And heavens forbid but theUK may want farming land to feed it swollen multitudes. They haven’t slowed immigration much.

  2. People are not concerned that housing is so expensive: they want their house prices to increase ,while fulminating with rage about other people getting something for nothing.
    It would n’t matter if the UK supply of building land went up: developers would still sit on it and ration the supply of new housing to keep existing house prices up.
    As Jim Claydon President of the Royal Town Planning Institute so succinctly put it,”All landowners including housebuilders maintain land values by managing supply.It is not in their interests to release large quantities of land because this deflates its value.” This is in line with Land Value Tax solutions proposed by Adam Smith,Sir William Petty,Richard Cantillon,John Stuart Mill,Ricardo,Henry George ,Tolstoy,Churchill,HG Wells etc.

  3. Tim and DBC are not only in agreement with each other, but both correct. I’m off ice-skating in Valhalla right now.

    are you really sure they wont plant ‘housing estates’ for the riotous there. Plus shopping malls etc.

    Good – better than having the riotous in the city near decent folk; and if the riotous aren’t going to starve, they’ll probably need some shops.

  4. Is there nothing beyond the green belt? I propose we form a party to cross this sacred land and see what lies beyond.

    If there are favourable conflations of location and resources we can pacify the natives and form a settlement – Timtown!

    DBC Reed said: “It would n’t matter if the UK supply of building land went up: developers would still sit on it and ration the supply of new housing to keep existing house prices up.”

    I’m picturing something like the wild west. Councils put in the roads and drains to plots. You and many others pay a sum and line up at the road end. A flag goes down and everyone goes for the plot of their choice. Could make a telly show out of it…

  5. ‘And heavens forbid but the UK may want farming land to feed it swollen multitudes.’

    Best way for this is to get rid of EU tariffs so we can access the swathes of farmland waiting to be optimised in Africa and Central Asia.

    At the same time get rid of CAP (at least Single Farm Payment side) and let UK farming/countryside businesses rip.

    Slash the planning constrictions on everything as well.

    Economy would rocket up.

  6. DBC Reed,

    All landowners including housebuilders maintain land values by managing supply.It is not in their interests to release large quantities of land because this deflates its value.

    If it’s the case that land increases in value more than building houses on it, then why do any houses get built at all?

    This land banking theory (beyond ensuring that you have some land to ensure continued production) makes no sense.

  7. Makes perfect sense.What would be the sense of of building twice as many houses and selling them at half the price when there is nothing to stop you selling the usual number at the usual price?Flood the market and you get into a classic
    deflationary spiral where people can’t see any point in buying your houses if they don’t hold their value. Your are also ignoring the point that you can raise loans on the land(bank) value and gamble it on the markets.This is the rumour about Woolworths’ demise.You are inhabiting
    the naive mindset of Michael Gove who opposed the Rating (Empty Properties ) Bill in 2007 because he could n’t believe that people would keep properties empty deliberately. Fortunately
    wiser Labour Party counsels prevailed.

  8. The CBRE report accurately the implementation of the previous government’s housing targets – the predicting (trust me it’s all nonsense) of future housing demand and the provision of land to meet said demand.

    Even on their own terms – that we can actually have a stab at predicting how many houses we need in 2025 – the answers a lousy since they are deterministic.

    But then the point of planning is to guard the value of our properties not to provide for future generation’s housing needs!

  9. DBC Reed – I say this for the interest of your readers, and on the off-chance you have changed your opinion about the rightness of basing your arguments on reality. However, if you continue in the opinion you expressed to me in our last exchange, that reality has nothing to do with your writing, I will be able to live with that.

    Your analysis is incomplete. It is of course always in the interests of sellers to sell small amounts at a high price. However, if there are a large number of participants in the market, it is in the interest of any one seller for all their fellow sellers to sell only small amounts, while they sell large quantities at the high price. However, clearly if every seller starts selling large quantities as is in their immediate interest, then it cannot be the case that the majority of sellers are selling small quantities, so the price will fall. Furthermore, if most participants in the market are selling large quantities and the price is low as a consequence, the incentive to sit on your large quantities disappears. This is true of all sorts of markets, and is, for example, why we have seen a collapse of fish stocks – it would be in the financial interests of all fisherfolk (and of society’s general utility) to limit fishing to that rate that the fished species can support, but each individual fisher has an incentive to sell larger quantities than that.

    So where we have seen successful cartels is where one participant has controlled such a large section of the market that they are capable of holding back supply to keep prices up – Saudi Arabia in oil, De Beers in diamonds (until the Russians and the like started selling around them).

    This may be happening in housing in the UK, if there is a large landowner. But it’s not a universal rule, Edward Gleaser for example noted that in Las Vegas in the 1980s and 1990s housing units grew by approximately 50% – see http://www.economics.harvard.edu/pub/hier/2005/HIER2062.pdf (page 8)

    I also note that you claim a bunch of people as supporters of a land tax, but do not provide sources for your statement. I have read Adam Smith’s books, and I can recall no point where he calls for a Land Value Tax, indeed he says, in Book V, Chapter II, Of the Sources of the General or Public Revenue of the Society, in The Wealth of Nations, “The subjects of every state ought to contribute towards the support of the government, as nearly as possible, in proportion to their respective abilities; that is, in proportion to the revenue which they respectively enjoy under the protection of the state.”
    Which is rather the opposite of a land value tax. (Adam Smith does discuss land taxes, but he also discusses a lot of other taxes). It may be that I have forgotten something, in which case I would appreciate DBC Reed providing a reference, but given that DBC Reed was, on the topic of riots, quite happy to make up stuff about what Conservatives were saying, and then criticise them based on his inventions, I will not be holding my breath.
    (I also understand that Ricardo argued for a land tax based on its lack of dead weight losses, not the argument that DBC Reed puts forward, and am rather skeptical about all the other famous names DBC Reed rattles off as supporting the argument).

  10. @Tr W
    Very kind of you to go to so much trouble( and at such length!).Very puzzled about the analogy with fish(!): people could stop buying fish altogether or switch to other meat,so it would n’t work to ration the supply.There is no alternative to land to live on .Trawlers seem to be competitive independent traders ( you could say “sole traders” yok yok) where the boat owning skipper has to face an auction at the quayside when he gets back into port.His catch would go off if not bought immediately.Very few chances to hold the market to ransom whereas in land (or inland) there is no real supply and demand: if you set too high prices for land, people may not buy so you just withdraw it from sale and wait your moment.Years may pass : a central site in my town has been unused for fifty years.
    Mark Wadsworth has a handy side bar on his blog which quotes Adam Smith on LVT extensively.(TW occasionally speaks up very Timidly ,[they just keep coming]for LVT ,probably out of loyalty to Smith,but most of the time he holds to the Ayn Rand line that robber barons are our friends really,with their rough, swashbuckling ways cutting swathes through bureaucrats (who absolutely do not exist in the private sector) and not paying tax for the government services they receive in that attractive way of theirs.)
    There is a whole web-site called Co0perative Individualism which gives an alphabetical listing
    of all the believers in LVT ,which is one of the oldest,if not the oldest school in Economics .Economics is perhaps the only field of study which shits on its founding fathers.
    Its centuries-long success in keeping LVT at bay is one of the longest rearguard actions in history.

  11. DBC Reed – I am delighted to discover that on this topic at least you believe that reality has something to do with your views.

    Very puzzled about the analogy with fish(!): people could stop buying fish altogether or switch to other meat,so it would n’t work to ration the supply.There is no alternative to land to live on .

    May I remind you that your original claim was that “it’s not in their [landowners] interest to release large quantities of land because this deflates its value.”
    The point of fish is that it’s very definitely in fisherfolk’s interests overall to ration the fish they catch (because if they fish too much the fishery will collapse, depriving them of all income from that fish species), and yet competitive pressures lead to overfishing in an open-access fishery.

    As for “no alternative to land to live on”, what does this have to do with your argument about landowners refusing to sell land? You originally claimed that landowners were keeping land off the market in their financial interest. In which case this to me implies that people will live closer together on what land is available. (As indeed we see in cities with high land prices, consider for example the average size of a hotel room in New York or London compared with the average size of a hotel room in Las Vegas). If you believe that landowners are colluding to keep land off the market, and that people have no other alternative to land to live on, what would you expect to see happen as a consequence of these two events?

    if you set too high prices for land, people may not buy so you just withdraw it from sale and wait your moment. Years may pass : a central site in my town has been unused for fifty years.

    Yep, that’s your right, if you are willing to pay the costs of doing so. And people are free (as far as I know) to do this with other long-lasting goods, such as diamonds, cars, cellphones, paintings, antiques, etc, and people do do this from time to time for various reasons. But that some people will choose to sit on an asset rather than sell it doesn’t mean that overall in a competitive market people will refrain from selling land out of a desire to hold back supply to keep prices up. The Edward Gleaser paper I linked to showed large increases in housing units in Las Vegas, for example, in response to demand.
    Land is slightly unusual in that it seems to be more likely to get tied up in complex legal battles and thus be unable to be sold than most assets. But I might be wrong about this tendency, perhaps land being tied up in legal battles is just more visible than other assets, and I don’t know of any statistics on the topic.

    Mark Wadsworth has a handy side bar on his blog which quotes Adam Smith on LVT extensively.

    And nowhere in those quotes does Adam Smith come out and says he favours LVT. Mark Wandsworth is extrapolating from the bits he quotes, but Adam Smith does not contradict in what he says here what I quoted from earlier. And nowhere in those quotes does Adam Smith follows your argument that landowners will always just sit on the land stock.

  12. “Yep that’s your right ” (to leave a central site disused for fifty years), ” if you are willing to pay the costs of doing so.” Thats the point : there are no costs for doing so;land just sits there and appreciates in value; lvt is meant to introduce a cost.
    ( I am surprised you think a poor Leftie such as myself is familiar with the comparative size of hotel rooms in London and Las Vegas.)
    I suggest you address your fish-related questions to Mason Gaffney,Professor of Economics,Dept of Economics,Univ of California,Riverside,CA 9251
    e-mail [email protected]
    He seems a nice patient man. (I am not).Alternatively you could take in his cogent explanation of LVT over on the Mark Wadsworth site and save yourself the embarrasssment.

  13. DBC Reed -I remind you yet again that you originally claimed “it’s not in their [landowners] interest to release large quantities of land because this deflates its value.”
    I notice that you are no longer even trying to defend this position.

    I also note that you haven’t answered my question from before, which was: ” If you believe that landowners are colluding to keep land off the market, and that people have no other alternative to land to live on, what would you expect to see happen as a consequence of these two events?”
    Have you ever thought through the implications of your world view? Or did you just rattle off the first things that came into your head without pausing to think?

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