Housing and Planning

Through the roof

In this new video for ieaTV, IEA Director General Mark Littlewood explains how liberalising the UK’s suffocating planning laws would have a profound and beneficial effect on the cost of living.

Instead of focusing development in undesirable brownfield locations, government should allow much more new housing on green belt land. That does not mean destroying parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty, but it does mean letting builders build in areas where people actually want to live.

Director General, IEA

Mark Littlewood is Director General of the Institute of Economic Affairs and the IEA’s Ralph Harris Fellow. Mark has overseen significant growth in the IEA’s size, influence and media profile during his tenure, since 2009. Mark also sits on the Board of Big Brother Watch, a non-profit organisation fighting for the protection of privacy and civil liberties in the UK. Mark is recognised as a powerful, engaging and articulate spokesman for free markets. He is a much sought-after speaker at a range of events including university debates, industry conferences and public policy events. He also features as a regular guest on flagship political programmes such as BBC Question Time, Newsnight, Sky News and the Today Programme. He writes a regular column for The Times and features in many other print and broadcast media such as The Telegraph, City AM and Any Questions.

2 thoughts on “Through the roof”

  1. Posted 14/10/2014 at 21:22 | Permalink

    This is one of the worst pieces of work I have seen the IEA produce. It is opinion which is not supported with any relevant facts or coherent analysis.
    Why does Mark Littlewood say that brownfield sites are in places people dont want to live? What a ridiculous generalisation. All of Docklands was a brownfield site in 1990.
    Why does he think that building houses will reduce their prices by 40%. Did he lick his finger before he stuck it in the air?
    And how many people spend 50% of their income on housing? Obviously not the large proportion of home owners who have paid down much of their loans.
    Why doesn’t the IEA ask the logically prior questions – such as why are house prices so high? Where does the demand for houses come from?
    Has it not troubled the economic minds at the IEA that the supply of credit has a bigger impact on house prices than annual building? Has it not ever heard of quantitative easing? Where does freshly printed money go? It goes into asset prices and the principal destination of new bank credit is housing. And what about international demand? Has Mr Littlewood gone to a property auction lately? I suggest going to a Saville’s auction in London. That would be real not armchair research. When I went two ladies two seats down from me bought approximately 20 houses each – many sold by the London Police Authority. Who were they acting for? Foreign buyers!
    If the IEA were in the pay of a group of housebuilders it could not have produced more trivial propaganda.
    If this is the rubbish the conservative party is listening to then no wonder UKIP is getting votes. The man in the street knows very well that desecrating English countryside is not going to get him onto the property ladder.

  2. Posted 14/10/2014 at 21:33 | Permalink

    Oh and I forgot to mention the economic experiments carried out in Ireland and Spain. High house prices were the justification for building. Each built more houses in the past 35 years than in their entire previous history. Did it create prosperity? Or a bubble?
    A trip around Ireland to see the unfinished new shopping malls and towns is instructive.
    Did building all these unsold houses bring house prices in Dublin down? NO! the colapse of credit did that. And have house prices collapsed in Ireland? NO! not as much as they should have because the banks and the government will not write their assets down to a realistic value – because their capital ratios would be blown.

    And as for liberalisation of planning laws….Has Mr Littlewood read the new National Planning Policy Framework? And does he have any regard for ‘sustainability’ and ‘environmental limits’? Or is he one those economists who does not believe that there are any natural constraints on human desires? Perhaps he’d rather live in cities without any planning constraints. I’d recommend Lagos, Cairo and Kinshasa.

    When the Victorians built their suburbs there were fewer than 2billion people on the planet. Now there are 7billion. And a large proportion of them want to come to London!

    Economic libertarianism means that a substantial proportion the population of Europe might like to come to this financial honeypot. Should we accommodate them? Or should we try and stop them capsizing the boat as they all move over to one side.

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