Mindgargling sodding stupidity

Who would live in a pod like this? Architect designs tiny flats to stand on stilts above car parks in bid to solve UK housing crisis
Architect Bill Dunster is trying to build the 74 square foot pods, which cost around £60,000 to install, in Oxford
The portable buildings have solar panels, water recycling systems and electric vehicle charging points
The architect, who wants to bring the pods to London and Bath, says the homes could be let for £750 per month

The built environment in the UK is perhaps 10% of the land area. Housing is some 3% or so of the land area.

Land for housing just isn’t one of those things that we need to economise upon. Abolish the Town and Country Planning Acts and get on with it you morons.

70 thoughts on “Mindgargling sodding stupidity”

  1. £750 a month to live in a shed?

    Even Monbiot will be walking on by.

    It might make a crib for some working girls.

  2. There’s plenty of land around Oxford. It’s greenbelt though, so you can’t build on it. I still don’t understand the demand for the place, though. If I wanted a commuter location, I’d rather live in Reading.

  3. “Land for housing just isn’t one of those things that we need to economise upon.”

    Yes it is. Because people want to live on parts of it where they don’t have a three hour train journey to work.

  4. The “housing problem” isn’t what people think it is, I.e. we aren’t building enough houses for people to live in. No, the real “housing problem” is how to build more houses while still keeping house prices rising by 10% a year.

    Renting skips on stilts to mugs at £750 a month solves this problem. The livestock gets houses and the supply of real houses remains nicely restricted.

  5. Am I the only reader overwhelmed by the virtue signalling? Oooh solar power! Aaaah points for recharging an electric car! Recycled water! Redeeming parking lots all over the country! They will become colonies for the righteous, who will not mind the size of their roost because they will be raised above the level of evil commuters, upon whom they can piss when the lights go off! Oh brave new world!

  6. So Much For Subtlety

    The Stigler – “I still don’t understand the demand for the place, though.”

    Drunken undergraduates? You have no idea what it costs to get a working girl to talk Foucault.

  7. Wrong end of the stick Tim, not helped by the Mail getting sqft muddled up with sqm, by the look of it.

    We built the Broadgate Centre and the Barbican over railways and car parks, so what is the problem with homes, and cheap high performance homes at that, over car parks.

    The issue may be reduction in capacity.

    Think Brent Cross car park, for example.

    Oxford’s main problem is that it is run by goofballs. They had a crackdown on shared houses which made loft-conversions for rent uneconomic, so vanished the local housing opportunities for young professional singles and couples.

    And because it is a tightly drawn boundary, they started demanding to build on other Council’s Green Belt.

  8. why not just concrete England over?
    You know that this is what you really want.
    Sea to sea diversity.

  9. It’s right there in the article:

    Oxford City Council has cited … land devaluation … as reasons for the hold up

    Can’t let the value of existing homes fall. Mr Councillor has a buy-to-let empire to maintain.

  10. Ah- I don’t see that much wrong with this. It’s a novel approach (not necessarily a solution, though) to a problem we have right now. It’s a tactical solution, sure, and it’s not going to resolve the strategic one of cost of housing, but every little helps.

    If you are with Corbusier, in that a house is a machine for living in, these are fine. The brits have a particular thing for the traditional house, but micro houses and the like are a perfectly appropriate solution for single folks who don’t want to house share.

    (Although Reading is a better commuter town)

  11. Matt W –its still a fucking shed.

    Not to mention the security problems with all those well-off leftist eco-turds living over a transient area. Park the car, rob, rape and murder and be on your way.

  12. Would be good fun if the adjacent landowner to the Old Orchard Downham Market were able to get planning to put up social housing blocks to house all the immigrants that populate rural Norfolk in the agricultural industry. That would surely be in the interests of civil society.

    Assuming NIMBY objections mean it would be refused, they might ring all borders with the Old Orchard with leylandii.

  13. Tim Newman

    “File under: Only in Britain.”

    But it’s not, it’s happening anywhere that’s half decent to live where there are serious planning restrictions, just look at Auckland. A council who believe in a ‘compact city’ and large inwards immigration, result skyrocketing house prices.

  14. But it’s not, it’s happening anywhere that’s half decent to live where there are serious planning restrictions, just look at Auckland.

    True, the Antipodeans seem to have adopted the ludicrous approach to housing favoured by Brit. Australia is probably even worse.

  15. I took it that the price per square foot of living space in central London was a good indicator of relative scarcity of land?

  16. “Australia is probably even worse”.

    Not really, if I sold my 1 bedroom Ealing flat and moved back to Queensland I’d be looking at 5 bedrooms, 3 car garage on an acreage a 20 minute drive from the beach.

  17. Ironman,

    Well the quote itself is in the article. Full line: “Oxford City Council has cited air pollution, land devaluation and costs as reasons for the hold-up.

    As to whether any particular elected councillors or council planning department employees stand to lose financially, I can’t say. But it’s a reasonable guess that most councillors are homeowners themselves, and thus stand to lose (at least in relative terms) if they grant planning permission for more homes in the area. This applies everywhere, not just in Oxford.

    The Stigler – “I still don’t understand the demand for the place, though.”

    I don’t really get it either. Maybe the demand comes from parents hoping that the university vibe and general positive attitude towards education will rub off on their offspring. But Cambridge is far more pleasant; and (pace John Square) a shorter commute to the City.

  18. Not really, if I sold my 1 bedroom Ealing flat and moved back to Queensland I’d be looking at 5 bedrooms, 3 car garage on an acreage a 20 minute drive from the beach.

    Yes, you could sell a 1 bed flat in Brisbane and buy a 5-bed house in Wales, too.

  19. Yes Tim, but I’m talking about buying a house that’s a 45 minute drive from the center of a major city, not in the middle of nowhere.

  20. If I sold my 1 bedroom Ealing flat and moved back to Queensland …”: stop being silly; you know perfectly well that when people say “Australia” they mean the more desirable bits of Sydney.

  21. Yes Tim, but I’m talking about buying a house that’s a 45 minute drive from the center of a major city

    Seriously? Either the guys I know in Brisbane and the Gold Coast are telling me absolute bullshit about the property prices there, or…

    You have a link to any example property?

  22. Yeah, for 5 minutes you’re looking at a flat. But from the northern side of the Gold Coast you can get to the center of Brisbane in less time than it takes me to get from Ealing to central London in the morning.

  23. Arithmetic doesn’t work. 74 sq ft is a small guest bedroom 8′ x 9′) or less than half a shipping container. 74 sq m is actually pretty generous two bed flat.

  24. Of this really just indicates the insanity of London prices rather than anything about the Australian market.

    I dunno, mate. $900k for a place on the outskirts of Brisbane/Gold Coast? Marginally less insane than London perhaps, but hardly sensible either.

  25. We want to keep our green belt.

    We have mass immigration.

    The land area of the UK remains fairly constant.

    And yet house prices keep going up.

    Can someone please untangle this economic conundrum?

  26. Jeez, scratch that: $900k for a corrugated iron shed on the outskirts of the Gold Coast? I’d take the flat in Ealing. Or spend the money on somewhere in France.

  27. blingmun;

    People actually like house prices going up. It’s largely an illusion, but it makes people who own feel wealthier, and they have significantly more voting power than those who don’t own.

  28. So Tim, can you give us an example of a spacious property in Paris?

    My apartment isn’t bad. Around 100 sqm, newish 3-bed, in the suburb of Puteaux (so not technically Paris, but 15 mins from the centre on Metro Ligne 1), with underground parking and a cellar. Would be worth around 700-800k Euros, at a guess.

    45 minutes outside Paris you could pick up an old farmhouse with as many bedrooms and acres as you want for about 150k Euros without even trying.

  29. Architects, bless…. I thought DM subs were supposed to be the best, surely ’74 sq ft’ doesn’t pass, the ‘hang on a mo…’ test?

    My first thought on reading was, ‘where are all the car parks in London to build these?’

    If you are going to build expensive sheds on the top of park’n’rides, why not build 3 stories of parking and 10 stories of housing?

    Australia is actually turning away from urban sprawl and towards apartment living, not just because the population is rising, but because people tire of driving through miles and miles of suburbs. Melbourne seems to go on for ever…

    MattyJ – you still live in Ealing though, eh?

    For London and popular towns, relatively dense, relatively now-cost housing, ideally by or over transport nodes is the only way forward – works all over developed Asia. Concreting over the SE green belt won’t do it.

  30. “Melbourne seems to go on for ever…”
    It just feels that way because you’re in Melbourne 😉

    “you still live in Ealing though, eh?”
    Yeah, but Tim’s got me considering France now…

    They do seem to have got the message about building up in London now. There’s high-rise apartment buildings going up around Ealing now. In Kings Cross there’s luxury flats being built inside the old gas holders of all things.

  31. I’ve been to Brisbane once and Melbourne once; have to say I preferred ‘Brisvegas’. Although that might have been because all I saw was the stadium, bars and strip joints. In Melbourne it was meetings and coffee shops and listening to people bang on about how good the coffee was…

  32. Some parts of Melbourne are nice; I’ve got family in the outer suburbs. But mostly it’s the pretentious-hipster capital of the southern hemisphere.

  33. “Abolish the Town and Country Planning Acts and get on with it you morons.”

    If the Murphatollah ever tries to discredit you, he will use claims like this.

    Sure we can ease green belt restrictions, we can even abolish planning restrictions in certain areas; but a free-for-all? Building unrestrictedly in National Parks, AONB’s, SSSI’s and concreting over millions of local amenities, like parks and woodland?

  34. Andrew M:

    “But it’s a reasonable guess that most councillors are homeowners themselves, and thus stand to lose (at least in relative terms) if they grant planning permission for more homes in the area. This applies everywhere, not just in Oxford.”

    I doubt that. The property market is deeply segmented. The price of two-ups-two-downs can fall at the same time as bigger properties can increase. The availability of rabbit hutches over car parks is not likely to affect the price of a 6-bedroom villa in north Oxford.

    I suspect that the “land devaluation” refers to certain adjacent plots. The Council is concerned about possible compensation claims from residents or developers for loss of value.

  35. @Mr Ecks

    Perhaps you need to lie down in a darkened room with a damp towel and a nurse.

    Perhaps without the nurse so you can entertain us tomorrow.

  36. Theo,

    Fair points. Though I doubt a council planning officer can afford a six-bedroom villa in north Oxford. (Or if they can, somebody needs to check the recycling bins for brown envelopes.)

  37. Andrew M

    A localised development of over-carpark prefabs on the outskirts of Oxford is not going to result in a planning officer’s three-bedroom semi on the Ilkely Road being any less valuable. The over-carpark prefabs will appeal to a quite different market, and by increasing the workforce and so local demand will probably make Oxford even more prosperous, thereby driving property prices even higher.

  38. My 3-bedroom flat above a shop is £500 a month, and is right on the main bus route into town 15mins away. They could make a start by re-using the unused flats above other shops that I see on the way into town.

  39. Vancouver seems to have started figuring out that building high rises over or around transit hubs is a good idea based on the building going on, the only problem is that they politicians/transit authority haven’t figured out that they should be monetising this to help fund the rapid transit expansion plans. Given it’s likely they would end up killing development rather than finding a balance maybe best they stay out of it though.

  40. The built environment in the UK is perhaps 10% of the land area. Housing is some 3% or so of the land area.

    Think you’ve misremembered. About 10% of England is classified urban. Just over 2% is built on.

  41. Matt W : So you’ll be buying one then will you Matt?

    Theo–You could alter the law so only those in the immediate environs of a proposed whatever get a say about it. At some kind of mediated process.

    So if some nutter does want to build a rendering plant on your street only those in sight/stink range get the right to complain. Better than Council parasites calling the shots.

  42. @Mr Eck

    They will be rentals, and make a lot of sense compared to eg sharing a room with somebody else for £100 a week.

    They will also have roughly zero energy bills. That is worth £1k a year or so.

    I expect the first of these to be built in hospitals as staff accommodation.

    Personally I wouldn’t invest in Oxford with such a mad, loose cannon Council.

  43. Bloke in Costa Rica

    Just about the only thing that’s still cheap here is housing. I pay £300 a month so something 15× bigger than these stupid pods and even then it’s not exactly spacious.

  44. @Matt W, April 19, 2016 at 8:45 am

    “….not helped by the Mail getting sqft muddled up with sqm, by the look of it.”

    Thanks, 72sqft (8×8)ish for £750pm did sound crazy. Pics in DM article confirm sqm is more likely.

    @Ralph Musgrave, April 19, 2016 at 8:46 am

    “I know it’s dreadfully un-PC to mention this, and I might get arrested for saying this, but without immigration, the problem would be far smaller.”

    +1

    Osbourne’s “end of the world” dodgy dossier yesterday assumes net immigration will continue at >350,000pa until 2021, then ~185,000 2021-2030.

  45. Ecksy
    I doubt that would work. For instance…what about the folk on the other side of town affected by the increased traffic generated by the rendering plant? And then there’d be various specialist technical issues to do with disposal of industrial waste, water and sewerage capacity, etc.

  46. “but a free-for-all? Building unrestrictedly in National Parks, AONB’s, SSSI’s and concreting over millions of local amenities, like parks and woodland?”
    Just wouldn’t happen Theo.
    Remove the restrictions on building & buying property would no longer look like a good investment. Lot of people would start wondering whether they really want the risk of owning.
    Net result would be about the same amount of building as now. Or maybe less.

  47. I went to buy a new printer on Amazon today, because my old one packed in. £30 for a HP Printer/Scanner. I can remember paying £100 during about 20 years back, for a shit one.

    I reckon the price of houses in the South East is due to households with two decent earners having fuck all else to spend money on. Since things like printers or washing machines are practically disposable (what’s 30 quid, an hour’s average wage between two in London?) they decide to move from 20% of earnings on a mortgage to 30%, so they can have slightly more room and shave 20 minutes each way off the commute.

    Plus, there’s too many people.

  48. “In Kings Cross there’s luxury flats being built inside the old gas holders of all things.”

    Not quite, the flats were built and the the frame of the old gasholders was taken out of storage and reassembled around them.

  49. Whenever I have to deal with local authority planners she gives me a load of grief, and then just when things are getting critical she fucks off on maternity leave, so we start again with someone else. I would happily sack the lot of them.

  50. Theophrastus said:
    ” “Abolish the Town and Country Planning Acts and get on with it you morons.” … a free-for-all? Building unrestrictedly in National Parks, AONB’s, SSSI’s?”

    Actually no, because they’re all under the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act, not the Town and Country Planning Acts.

    So the Town and Country Planning Acts could be abolished and we’d still have the protection for National Parks, AONBs and SSSIs (which is probably a good idea).

  51. Has anyone read Susan Cooper’s book “Mandrake”, in which the Town & Country Planning Acts are revealed to be the centre of a pagan earth-worshipping neo-fascist plot? Gloriously odd.

  52. What worries me is that everyone fixates on homes. What about dentists, doctors, shops etc. Where do they figure on the plans?

    For reference, the massive flat developments at King’s Cross made no provision for doctors, school nor healthcare. Repeat no provision.

  53. “I reckon the price of houses in the South East is due to households with two decent earners having fuck all else to spend money on.”

    And of course the investment returns are practically guaranteed by the current political system (a housing crash is unthinkable for any government given that power is dependent on winning a few dozen marginal seats) and the results tax free.

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