2 thoughts on “Why ‘second generation rent controls’ are not a solution to the affordability crisis (Part 2): beware false comparisons”

  1. Posted 27/03/2014 at 22:36 | Permalink

    Kristian – How do you know that Germany “has consistently released more land for development than the UK”? Just because they have built more dwellings doesn’t mean they’ve built on more land – it could be that they’ve used land more efficiently. Isn’t part of the problem here that planning regulations often mandate low housing density so we use land inefficiently? Do German taxes also encourage more efficient land use (genuine question – I don’t know). May the problem not be that we need to build more vertically (I’m not talking high rise flats, just three or four storey non-detached houses and flats of a reasonable height)?

  2. Posted 28/03/2014 at 11:34 | Permalink

    HJ – I’d recommend the publication ‘Unaffordable housing: Fables and myths’ by Oliver Hartwich and Alan Evans (http://www.policyexchange.org.uk/publications/category/item/unaffordable-housing-fables-and-myths), which is strong on international comparisons, even though the figures are now a bit dated. It says that about 12% of the German surface area is urbanised, compared to 8% in the UK, while population density is nearly the same. You could still be right, though, that differences in high-rise building plays a role too. I haven’t come across data on the average number of storeys, and I don’t know the answer to the taxation question.

    What I keep noticing, though, is the differences in attitudes towards development. A strong sentimental attachment to all things countrysidy is common to both countries. No difference there. The difference is that in Germany, the term ‘countryside’ is used more selectively than here. Not every muddy stubblefield qualifies as The Countryside that must be preserved at all cost. Of course, if you proposed to build over forests and the meadows, you’d get into trouble there too. Fortunately, that is wholly unnecessary, because there is enough unspectacular land left. Outside of travel brochures, there is no place in the world where every square inch is spectacularly beautiful.

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