You should do this

Today the Adam Smith Institute, along with our friends at the Taxpayers’ Alliance, launch our drive to get as many of you involved in the housing white paper consultation as possible.

It’s been an issue that has blighted Britain for decades. Scarce and irregular housing supply in the places people want to live, and an incentive structure that allows home owners to lock-out first-time buyers from the market, have left a whole generation priced out and our country less productive and poorer than we need or ought to be.

This could change though. In consultation is the Planning For The Future white paper. Its basic aim is to move England to a zoning-based system where local councils set out rules about what can be built where, but don’t take an active role in approving or rejecting individual applications for development. Rules over discretion. More micro-democracy. More beautiful buildings where people want to live.

It’s an issue we’ve been researching for a decade and its vitally important that the country gets these reforms right. So that’s why we want you sensible folk to join us in submitting evidence to the consultation.

Click the button below (or click here) to be taken to the page with our suggested answers to the questions being asked, click here to be taken to the full consultation page, and watch our video setting out how the housing crisis began and how we can fix it (and do like and share it with your friends).

9 thoughts on “You should do this”

  1. Bloody fantasy stuff. MY little bit of officious control will be for the general good. This is fine stuff coming from a place where the concept of freedom is meant to be understood. It’s bollocks, it’s the same old control dressed up as liberation, but retaining just as much control as before in a different place.

    Oh, and the usual mention of the I word, that invisible pachyderm.

  2. The most beautiful “built up area” in Britain is the New Town of Edinburgh. If you read Sandy Youngson’s book “The Making of Classical Edinburgh” you’ll see how it was done.

  3. P.S. All you will then have to work out is how to ensure that the incentives on modern politicians would encourage them to replicate the achievement of the 18th century City Fathers.

  4. “Its basic aim is to move England to a zoning-based system where local councils set out rules about what can be built where, but don’t take an active role in approving or rejecting individual applications for development. Rules over discretion. More micro-democracy. More beautiful buildings where people want to live.”

    We have a zoning based planning system right now. Under the Local Plan system the local authority identifies land that they accept in principle development may take place. You still have to make a full planning application to ensure that all other planning requirements are met (environmental, transport, flood management, building regulations, provision for new schools etc) but assuming you can get all the elebenty gazillion bits of paper aligned to prove that you aren’t planning to build a shanty town on top of an previously undiscovered Stonehenge, you’ll get your planning permission.

    So I fail to see how the new scheme will be any different. The local authority will merely identify as suitable for development the very same land it would have identified under the Local Plan system. And the developer will still have to jump through all the administrative hoops that is does now. Maybe it won’t be the local authority administering those hoops, but adherence to the rules will have to be checked by someone, unless they are planning to do away with all other legislation that covers the practical design and construction of large scale developments, which I severely doubt in this bureaucratic age.

    And the idea that ‘micro democracy’ will lead to more housing built is cloud cuckoo land. The general public are dead set against anything being built anywhere near them. Give Joe Public the chance to vote on or influence what land gets built on and he’ll take the opportunity to stymie everything that gets proposed. The current system only delivers the amount of housing land it does largely because the general public have virtually no say whatsoever in the matter. Central government bureaucracy sets the target for new housing units in a given area, the local authority bureaucracy decides where to best put them. Give the public a say, and even less will get through the net.

  5. What Jim said. I’m a parish council planning member – we don’t make decisions, we comment on applications. The vast majority of representation from residents is “STOP IT!!!!! DON’T LET IT HAPPEN!!!!! HOW DARE THEY COMPETE WITH MY BUSINESS!!!!!!!!!!”

    Admittedly, some of the applications are stupid nonsense, and we say as much. A current application is an estate of housing next to a sewage farm. The developers will easily sell the houses, to people who will then forever complain about the stink.

  6. Jim +1
    Let’s have more MINBYs not fewer.
    My alternative is to kill two birds with one stone. Allow farmers (or any other landowner) to build houses on a certain %age of their land, provided they renounce subsidies for X years.
    If you own a very large garden you could be allowed to buy a plot somewhere else and do the same thing. Only planning restriction is utilities (you pay for connection) and aesthetics.

  7. What JGH said. When I was working at Viccy Bks, a complaint came about the noise from the field firing range in Townsville. But, we pointed out, the range has been there forever. Surely you knew about it before buying.

    Oh, but the seller said it was due to be shut down.

  8. Bloke in North Dorset


    I can top that. My first job on leaving the Army in 1990 was with GEC corporate networks and I was responsible for getting all their offices and factories connected to a new digital network with distributed BT interconnect following deregulation.

    I visited a factory in Essex that was surrounded by a new estate to carry out a survey. It was a very successful factory making those extractor fans you see in tunnels and they were a 24 x 7 operation that required lorries to drive through the estate. They were there when planning permission was given but the building went ahead.

    The ops manager told me there was no point connecting them as they were closing down as there were so many new restrictions on them, mainly shortened working hours because of the noise. The work went overseas, Germany IIRC.

  9. I used to work at a petrochemical site: the local council had built housing right up to our fence. Then the buggers all complained whenever we had to flare off some gas.

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