12 thoughts on “A simple answer to the housing shortage: Relax the planning strait-jacket”

  1. Posted 29/09/2014 at 20:34 | Permalink

    Kristian – I think you should think again about your assertion that it is currency “nearly impossible to build new homes” because of green belt regulations. In the, currently, modestly-sized town in the south east where I live there are major housing estates being built on three sides of the town on what was green belt land (and very green it was). The problem is that this land has been released for development because the government insists not only on huge additional housing quotas imposed on the council (local people have no say) but planning regulations require that it is all low-rise – very low rise – and therefore it uses land inefficiently. We could fit twice as many, more spacious, homes in these areas if developers could, and were incentivised, to build upwards (I mean medium rise, not high rise).

  2. Posted 30/09/2014 at 10:47 | Permalink

    HJ, we talked about this before. I agree that more medium-rise would make a lot of sense, if only because at least in London, it is already a nuisance that everything is so far away from everything. But higher density developments also create more opposition. You could say that it just shows how stupid the Nimbys are, because on the one hand they want to release as little land as possible (ideally none at all), but then they also insist that if any land is released, only bungalows must be build on it.

  3. Posted 30/09/2014 at 15:19 | Permalink

    Kris, where is you evidence that ‘Nimbys’ insist that only low level housing must be built? I thought this was more down to planning regulations. Local people don’t get much choice in any of this.

  4. Posted 30/09/2014 at 15:59 | Permalink

    HJ – Papers like the Telegraph and the Mail, which constantly rail against development, have also spoken out in favour of bungalows. See http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/home/blogs/bungalow-brandon-lewis/7005239.blog

  5. Posted 30/09/2014 at 16:37 | Permalink

    Kris, I agree with you entirely that their position is absurd. However, my point is that it is not local Nimbys that are the problem, it is the planning regulations.

  6. Posted 30/09/2014 at 17:19 | Permalink

    HJ – That could well be true.

  7. Posted 01/10/2014 at 20:26 | Permalink

    Why not make homeowners pay the full market price for the value they get from State regulation?(This is how a Capitalist economy should function).

    That way, the market sorts it all out. If they like having the Greenbelt, or low rise development in their area, their tax liabilities would be higher.

    Why shouldn’t they get this choice?(Choice=free market capitalism)

    Less tax for the rest of us, so more to spend on buying a home.

    Land Value Tax=puts the full cost of NIMBYISM onto homeowners. It reduces HPs to the cost of construction. The redistributive effects put an extra £11,000 pa into the pockets of the average UK household alone.

    Simply scrapping planning, without de-capitalising land rent first, would make our housing market even more chronically inefficient, and impose welfare and economic costs.

  8. Posted 18/10/2014 at 11:45 | Permalink


    I see your article was originally published in ‘Conservative Woman’.

    and you reverentially refer to one, namely Margaret Thatcher lauding her ‘property owning democracy’ ideal.

    Can you refer to one speech where she said ‘Lets build on the Green Belt’?

    You cant.

    You see the Green Belt not as a beautiful national asset for all but as an obstacle to growth and progress.

    I can almost hear the twang of the puppet strings as you dance to the developers tune.

    You abuse Susan Parker of The Guildford Greenbelt Group on twitter calling her a liar, which she is not.

    And your idea to accomplish this manic profit making growth at all costs ..”Let’s build on the muddy fields, let’s build on undistinguished scrub land, let’s build on intensely farmed agricultural land that is not accessible to the public anyway.”

    What idiocy. So agricultural land that is a national food source should be concreted over forever because it’s farmed intensively or is ‘muddy’ …what claptrap.

    When you next meet your conservative pals Michael Heseltine & David Mellor who are reputedly behind the greedy Cayman Island developers who want to make millions by trashing our countryside in Surrey, let them know that they are responsible for making the Conservative Party unelectable in their previously safest seats in the country.

    At the next election The new Green Belt Party will unseat the friends of developers and put in place Councillors who will protect The Green Belt and bring ethical conduct back to local government.

  9. Posted 15/03/2015 at 12:24 | Permalink

    Hi Kristian,

    Long time reader, first time commenter.

    Quick question: if we build on “intensely farmed land,” will that not cause problems for food supply?

  10. Posted 15/03/2015 at 15:08 | Permalink

    Hi Kollo – there are always lots of potential uses for any given plot of land, not just housing and farming but also retail, office space, industry etc etc. The price mechanism makes sure it gets allocated to the most productive (=the most urgently needed) use. In a country with an oversupply of houses, but a scarcity of farmland, farmers would not find it profitable to sell land to developers: They would earn higher profits by farming the land. The very fact that land allocated for housing is worth a multiple of farmland shows you that we are the opposite: a country with lots of farmland and a housing shortage. So no, it wouldn’t cause problems for food supply. Food can be produced almost anywhere, but housing has to be in specific places. We can transport food, but we cannot transport ourselves (i.e. commute) over hundreds of kilometers on a regular basis. It is nonsense to use land around London for farming. Let people live there, and bring in the food from rural Wales or somewhere.

  11. Posted 15/03/2015 at 15:13 | Permalink

    Thank you for your prompt reply, on a Sunday no less. Very impressive, and I agree with your comment. Your answer is similar to what I thought, it’s nice to hear Caesar confirm my economic understanding.

  12. Posted 15/03/2015 at 15:50 | Permalink

    Kristian, generally speaking:

    I believe in freer markets allocating resources, but how do they overcome the Price of Anarchy: “a concept in economics and game theory that measures how the efficiency of a system degrades due to selfish behavior of its agents (it is a general notion that can be extended to diverse systems and notions of efficiency?” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Price_of_anarchy

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