“Take on the NIMBYs”: IEA expert responds to planning reform proposals

Commenting on the government’s plans to introduce a new Planning Bill in tomorrow’s Queen’s Speech, Dr Kristian Niemietz, Head of Political Economy at free market think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs, said:

“On planning reform, the government is making the right noises. But we have heard this too many times before and, so far, attempts have always ended with a capitulation to NIMBY interests.

“We will not solve this problem unless the government is prepared to take on the NIMBYs in the way Margaret Thatcher took on the striking miners.

“Britain’s housing supply falls far short of what we see in comparable countries, and the problem is particularly dire in those parts of the UK where housing demand is highest.

“Building houses is not rocket science. Most of the world somehow manages to do so, and indeed, previous Britons managed to do so as well. We needlessly deprive ourselves of affordable high-quality housing in the right places because we allow a small number of well-housed, time-rich, anti-housing activists (masquerading as “the community”) to shut down every development project they don’t like.

“We need a more rules-based system, where developers that play by the rules automatically get planning permission, without having to haggle with every troublemaker and every obstructionist over every plot.”


Notes to Editors

Contact: Emily Carver, Head of Media, 07715942731

For further IEA reading on fixing the housing crisis:

The Housing Crisis: A briefing, by Dr Kristian Niemietz
Raising the Roof: How to solve the United Kingdom’s housing crisis, by Jacob Rees-Mogg MP and IEA Fellow Radomir Tylecote

6 thoughts on ““Take on the NIMBYs”: IEA expert responds to planning reform proposals”

  1. Posted 10/05/2021 at 20:54 | Permalink

    This oversimplifies the problem? Land is the main barrier to any progress on the accessibility to housing issue.

    Govt should be building only public housing, plus disincentivising the rampant demand for land speculation (of corporate landlords, foreign investment, multiple home owners). The disincentives will lower prices of current houses (or rather the land that the houses sit on) and redistribute homes via the market to those who currently can’t afford them, with public housing helping those at the bottom.

  2. Posted 10/05/2021 at 21:22 | Permalink

    One can hope so.

  3. Posted 11/05/2021 at 10:49 | Permalink

    If developers actually played fairly within the rules there would probably be less objections made my local residents. It is the twisting of the truth and bending of the rules to suit the developers that certainly causes friction within our area. Not opposed to development but opposed to poor development choices and the manner in which developers pay for Consultants to distort the truth.

  4. Posted 11/05/2021 at 19:03 | Permalink

    Isn’t this a simplification of the housing problem? One of the main issues, in fact probably the main driver of escalating prices, is the speculation on land – vast demand side pressure.

    We’ve seen net migration fall in 2020, we’re on the precipice of a huge recession – yet house prices continue to rise. Some of this is due to the stamp duty holiday, which essentially increased asking prices by the average amount saved in tax, and the rest I’d argue is the constant of land speculation (which will increase when money printing increases, and interest rates stay low).

    Answer: build only public housing & disincentivise land price speculation simultaneously. The current housing stock will then be redistributed through the market (music to the ears of IEA) as it becomes more affordable, and we’ll realise there are more than enough homes to go round.

  5. Posted 12/05/2021 at 13:48 | Permalink

    Developers have over a million consents but are land banking and these are not built out / delivered. If this was addressed there would not be be a need to even consider building on farmland.
    Unfortunately developers or proposers have significant budgets and can select the evidence / reports that suit their aims and councils are not checking the “evidence” presented.
    Communities need more of a voice not less! We are not all NIMBYs!

  6. Posted 22/06/2021 at 10:15 | Permalink

    The Labour idea of taxing land occupied rather than the property is worth pursuing. Land use in the UK – 1% housing, 4% gardens. Thus to produce the “brownfield” sites needed we demolish the swathes of 1920s and 30s suburbia and early council housing and post war council estates with generous gardens and redevelop them to modern density standards.

    Those hogging valuable land (many of the NIMBYs?) seem to be the problem.

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