But, as even ministers now acknowledge, it is too little finance, not too much planning, that is preventing housebuilding. Developers are already sitting on enough land, with planning permission, to build a terrace of homes from John O’Groats to Land’s End, and – as a Campaign to Protect Rural England report showed last week – an ever-growing supply of brownfield land provides space enough for nearly 1.5 million new dwellings. Indeed, planning can ensure that the new homes, when they are built, go where people actually want to live – overwhelmingly in the cities and towns where they work and which have good transport – rather than reproducing the empty, unsellable “ghost estates” that litter the largely unplanned Irish countryside. And since most growth will be driven by urban areas (look at the revival of Manchester) this will be of particular benefit to the economy.
No one denies the planning system needs some reform, but crippling it will do nothing for growth, while improving it could genuinely boost the economy. As the financial crisis deepens, it becomes ever more critical that the Government understands the difference.
For there\’s two sides to \”finance\”.
One is can you get the money to buy the thing, which is what he\’s talking about. The other is, how much does the thing cost, which is the part he\’s ignoring.
It\’s hardly a work requiring genius levels of IQ to see that if you reduce what the thing costs then finance is going to become more available.
And what truly ails the UK housing market is the scarcity value of planning permission. Certainly in the South it\’s more than half of the value of a completed building. Reduce that scarcity value by issuing more chittys and you\’ll solve the basic problem in UK housing.
And, by making housing cheaper you\’ll make financing it easier too.