House building pledge is just a cunning PR strategy
Take the government’s first foray into building for a while, which involves 10,000 new homes at Northstowe, a derelict RAF base in Cambridgeshire. What would have happened to that site otherwise? Presumably private developers would have bought that land and done similar things to it anyway. The only difference is this would have made regional, not national, news and so no-one would have given Coalition ministers a pat on the back.
Statist types say the government can grant itself fast-track planning permission. But why not do that for developers, or indeed just speed up the planning process generally? That ministers even need to boast about ‘fast-tracking’ their own planning application just shows how hopeless the system is for everyone else.
If ministers were worried that a developer might buy up the land and then sit on it until its value rose, they could have slapped a covenant on it forcing the buyer to develop within a certain timeframe.
All Alexander and his colleagues are interested in is a cunning PR strategy that involves preventing widespread housebuilding with a useless planning system, thereby keeping the Nimbys happy, and then taking credit for little spurts of development in convenient locations. Voters should not let them get away with it.
This article was originally published on The Spectator’s Coffee House blog.