This is an interesting idea

A simple decade-long moratorium on private housebuilding would bankrupt housebuilders, scare off the capital, and collapse the price of land, allowing councils and social housing providers to purchase land and build homes that Londoners desperately need.
Michael Ball
Waterloo Community Development Group, London

Most, umm, interesting.

35 thoughts on “This is an interesting idea”

  1. Waterloo Community Development Group seems to have a long history, but probably not for much longer…

    Accounts for 31 Mar 2016:
    121 days overdue
    Annual Return for 31 Mar 2016:
    121 days overdue

    Financial year end (FYE) Income Spending Accounts received Annual Return/Annual Update received
    31 Mar 2016 Not received (121 days overdue) Not received (121 days overdue)
    31 Mar 2015 £30,629 £38,770 07 Jun 2016 (128 days late) 07 Jun 2016 (128 days late)
    31 Mar 2014 £92,255 £134,169 19 Feb 2015 (19 days late) 22 Dec 2014
    31 Mar 2013 £145,947 £133,504 29 Dec 2013 29 Dec 2013
    31 Mar 2012 £177,199 £167,894 17 Dec 2012 21 Dec 2012

  2. Bloke in North Dorset

    “Over the last decade we have been involved in a dozen public planning inquiries over towers of luxury housing stretching from Blackfriars to Battersea. Design is considered, the impact on heritage and views, daylight and shadowing, wind, parking, traffic generation, sustainability – everything except the need for yet another tower of luxury housing”

    Lefties at work – people only have needs not wants, and said lefties are the only ones who know what they need and will give to them, good and hard.

    I couldn’t bring myself to read the rest after that drivel.

  3. “I find the conclusions inescapable. There are those in this country who require a permanent homeless population to ensure their financial income, and they will fight to maintain it.”

    Errr, what?

  4. allthegoodnamesaretaken

    This is the sort of useful idiot who does not believe Labour’s manifesto will bankrupt the country.

  5. Every person that moves into a luxury apartment frees up a space further down. This is one area where trickle down definitely works.

    Plus apartments are the highest possible density, so are doubly good.

  6. So once you bankrupt the house builders, who will build your houses?

    I know, let’s round up some kulaks, quite a few will die but they are filthy kulaks, so who cares?

  7. “A simple decade-long moratorium on private housebuilding would boost my property portfolio so I could sell it at an enormous profit and retire early”

  8. Chester nails it. We need to have a major programme of unaffordable housebuilding, or at least permits for it.

  9. Like a vast and nasty pus-filled spot the left is coming to an ugly head, badly in need of popping.

    Yet there seems no one at the supposed “top” of Western society with the willingness or moral courage to do so.

  10. Bloke in North Dorset

    Just been up to the Orkneys, plenty of space there without having to build on the side of a mountain. It has the added benefit of being further away.

  11. A much easier solution would be to provide everyone who lives in London on housing benefit housing somewhere else. It would make prices crash.

  12. Anon,
    I have noted the same myself. We may have an obligation to house unproductive citizens, we certainly don’t have any obligation to house them in locations where they impede productive citizens.

  13. State control has always ended in suffering and misery.

    You can see the chain already.

    Don’t build houses but keep importing people, otherwise you’re waycist.

    Try to house more people, resulting in one family to one bedroom. This is the fault of wicked capitalists, so pass a law that one house houses one family.

    This increases homelessness which is the fault of wicked capitalists, so pass a law that we have to build more houses.

    We have always been at war with Eurasia…

  14. I find scanning these letters and having a google interesting – for example, further down you have a letter from Nicholas Falk (founder of a practice specialising in urban design) calling for an LVT to stmulate local development, coincidentally of a type that his practice could bid for. He’s so concerned about lack of available housing that he seemingly has two houses: “He lives in Stroud and London.”

  15. I see Mr Ball’s expertise is not business.

    Mine isn’t really either, but I am pretty confident about the course of action if his slightly odd idea were to actually be followed.

    1. Housebuilding company realises that it cannot build new houses for ten years, so needs to effectively reduce costs.
    2. Housebuilding company notices labour costs are almost entirely now not required, so sheds almost all staff.
    3. Housebuilding company uses reserves to fund assets which will be productive in ten years, i.e. land (since this is pretty well what they are already doing).
    4. Where necessary to raise funds, housebuilding companies sell land, producing a speculative market predicated on profits to be made in (less than) ten years time.
    5. Ten years later there is a housing boom, and those holding the land make nice profits.
    6. Somehow the land does not end up in the hands of government…

    So end result is mass unemployment (house building is a notable sector) and speculation on land.

  16. It would increase the price of land. The value isn’t in the land itself, it;s in the expectation of their being future demand. As long as that holds, then it will always have value.

  17. A simple decade-long jail sentence for those on the regressive left would bankrupt the Guardian, scare off the terrorists, and collapse the price of historic windmills, allowing Classic Liberals and Scandium furnishers to repeal the laws and build the economy that the whole of the UK desperately needs.

    I can play this game too!

  18. Chester, Bongo,

    > Every person that moves into a luxury apartment frees up a space further down.

    True, but you could have used the same site and the same team of builders to build twice as many smaller “affordable” flats. If you’re building houses, the same plot of land can take five executive houses or two dozen terraced rabbit hutches.

    This assumes a fixed amount of land available for building, which is largely the case under our current planning system. It also assumes a fixed number of builders, which is self-evidently false.

  19. “It would increase the price of land. The value isn’t in the land itself, it;s in the expectation of their being future demand. As long as that holds, then it will always have value.”

    With the caveat that if the future demand is too far out, it could affect prices. I’d guess that ten years out is long enough to hurt prices.

  20. Net Present Value is just future value minus opportunity cost and minus risk. The opportunity cost is reasonably stable; but under a Corbyn government, the risk factor would fluctuate wildly. In short, if Labour wins, the risk premium sky-rockets and NPVs collapse.

  21. As Rob said, this is the Kulaks all over again.

    Let’s not have any of that nasty private food production for profit. Let’s ban them and take the land into collective ownership on the cheap.

    What could possibly go wrong?

    I am always flabbergasted by the persistent superficial attractiveness of communist-style policies, despite relentless historical evidence of the disasters it causes. It’s almost as if people don’t live in the real world.

  22. One of the letters mentions that the 1,000 richest people in Britain have collective wealth of £658bn.

    I wonder how long it would take the types who frequent the Graun’s comment and letters pages to spunk all that and how much there would be to show for it?

  23. @MC – that’s almost exactly eleven months of tax receipts; a modest increase in public spending such as envisaged by the IRA fanboiz and you could probably blow the whole lot in one parliamentary term

  24. Bloke in North Dorset

    “One of the letters mentions that the 1,000 richest people in Britain have collective wealth of £658bn.”

    Its only worth that much in a free(ish) market. As soon as we get a confiscatory government it will be worth a lot less because nobody will want to buy it. Possibly with the exception or some art which could be exported but that’s likely to suffer an export ban anyway.

    What I want to know is: where is all this land that has been banked? When I visit London all I see is an urban jungle and some parks. If there really was a large bank it would be easy to find out how much. Get all planning approvals for past 7 years and then wander round and see what hasn’t been built.

    Once they’ve done that I might believe the building companies are making out like bandits.

  25. BiND

    Not much free land in London. What you see now is a mass of rebuilding work being done in Marylebone by the Howard de Walden Estate. There is also a lot of activity on the South Bank round Waterloo and Vauxhall – you might have noticed the number of cranes employed there redeveloping those horrible 60s office blocks. A huge new development in Vauxhall has come online just up the river at Vauxhall. Rumour is all the flats are owned by central Asians and never occupied. There is also a mass of building work round the new Farringdon station. So the landbanks are not in central London. They tend to be hidden behind hoardings alongside very busy roads in, say, Stevenage and Hemel Hempstead. Whenever anyone says that there needs to be investment in infrastructure, I look at all the apartment blocks that have been built in the last 5 years within a 20 mile radius of where I live and wonder who is going to build it? I can only see a construction industry going flat-out.

  26. “One of the letters mentions that the 1,000 richest people in Britain have collective wealth of £658bn.”

    Is this money in the bank? Or just how much their companies, houses, etc. are worth? if the latter, then what BiND says applies. (Plus if you take all their money then all the rich people who pay most of the taxes year in year out are now broke, and you’ve also destroyed the country’s entrepreneur culture).

  27. The large building companies have about 6 years worth of land bank IIRC.

    That’s just about enough to actually operate smoothly, because it takes so damn long to build. The actually building is only 2-3yrs maybe, but the planning can take just as long.

    Planning permissions granted have finally started rising the last few years (thanks to Pickles & co). New starts have also been rising, but more slowly. A lag is normal, but it has been a bigger than normal lag.

    But I wish people understood that getting a planning permission is not the same thing as getting the right planning permission. Planning permission does not equal building.

    So many times you have to play a silly political dance with the council:
    – ask for the world, get refused so they can show ‘democratic strength’
    – ask for slightly under what is the target, get approved, so they can claim a ‘result’ even if things have to go ahead.
    – then submit the actual plans for a third time now the principle is established and people get over it. Get approved and get building.

    Add in appeals and judicial enquiries along the way. And don’t forget the various aribitrary hidden section 106 taxes like affordable housing requirements, swimming pool contributions etc. – these alone kill many projects for a couple of years. It’s a joke.

    The biggest shame of all is that it takes these large builders to muscle their way through the system time and time again. We end up with estates of identikit slaveboxes because that’s the way the system is built. And yet I drive through France, Germany and Holland where people build their own houses plot-by-plot to a much higher standard, expanding a patchwork of small and pleasant villages.

  28. @RLJ

    While I can understand the desire to house people more cheaply outside London, removing people from their support network is not likely to improve their chances of becoming “good productive citizens”.

  29. JuliaM – we call those who require homeless to exist the charities, council departments and social groups who rely on homeless people.

    Walsall council at one time had a homeless section (don’t know if they still do).
    Officially they had more staff there than we had homeless people – the official count the council has to do has some limitations and some self imposed issues.
    One of the places checked for homeless people early hours of the morning was a busy road junction….. where no one was going to sleep.
    Actual homeless in the borough was closer to a hundred though not all were rough sleepers.

    One of the developers around here found a good way to annoy NIMBYs who had blocked use of a certain bit of land.
    The ability to block houses is different than the ability to block underground storage and the site can be open much longer than housebuilding will take. And just 30 feet from the back yard of those blocking house building….
    Site gets used, developer gets money, residents don’t get new homes built near them – everyone happy. 🙂

  30. You guys are right. They talk about how rich Gates and Zuckerberg are. If they actually started selling big chunks of stock, the value – hence their alleged wealth – would go down sharply.

  31. @ Martin
    Some charities (I’m not talking about “Shelter”) exist to help the homeless – my little sister and brother-in-law and several of their friends spend a lot of time and energy helping one. It has one, part-time, paid employee who drives the van taking donated furniture to the flat when they manage to get a flat for a homeless family/person. It is totally funded by voluntary donations plus the failure of volunteers to claim expenses – the latter being greater than the former.

    Thirty/thirty-plus years ago, before we moved out of London, I (and later also my wife) used to help at St Botolph’s (Aldgate) Centre after I was recommended to it by a retired Brigadier-General who had no doubts that that it was right for him to get his hands (and, whenever necessary, clothes) dirty helping the homeless. It was substantially subsidised by St Botolph’s Church who provided the Crypt and water, gas, electricity etc without charge.

    May I request you to put quotation marks around “charities”?

  32. Hi John77

    Finding which charities aren’t “charities” is pretty tough.

    Would you mind recommending some good homelessness ones?

  33. @ Cynic
    Refugee Survival Trust (not solely for the homeless but it does help some and an offshoot focuses on homeless refugees in Glasgow – you can bet your bottom dollar that they are genuine refugees as economic migrants pretending to be refugees won’t settle in Glasgow*)
    St Bots Crypt is no longer active because it accepted funding from a local authority (I have forgotten which one but it wasn’t the City of London which can afford to maintain its commitments) to expand its work and then went bust when the L.A. cancelled its funding.

    * or Easington or Mallaig or Barrow-in-Furness or …

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