Invest, invest, invest

“Britain is engulfed in a national housing crisis” says… The Daily Mail.

The “news” that home ownership has fallen to its lowest level for 30 years led to much wailing and gnashing of teeth in the right of centre popular press. The fall from 71 percent in 2003 to 64 percent today, with the biggest reductions in places like Manchester, Outer London and the West Midlands, violates their dream of a property-owning democracy.

But the question that these newspapers need to explore next is, how has this been allowed to happen? Readers of Inside Housing will know the answers – a lack of public investment, an over-reliance on a dysfunctional house-building industry, the unregulated growth of Buy-to-Let, NIMBY opposition to new homes, an obsession with the Green Belt, the failure of local authorities to put local plans in place. Continue reading


Two weeks ago I drove fifty miles though the Suffolk countryside and in village after village there were dozens of Leave placards and not a single Remain placard. I had a gut feeling that Leave would be victorious and yesterday afternoon I wrote a tweet that I did not post because I thought it was too pessimistic: “I think Leave might win. I fear many people feel sneered at & lied to by the political classes/elites. It’s their chance to say Up Yours.”

“Up Yours” indeed. When the dust settles it will be interesting to see how much of the vote was accounted for by dislike of the EU, and migration in particular, and how much of it was down to both austerity and the growing disconnect between establishment politicians and the people who are struggling under this government’s policies. If you look at the detailed results it is white working class areas where the Leave vote was highest. Just to take the Bs, over two thirds of voters in Barnsley, Bassetlaw, Blackpool, Bolsover and Boston voted to Leave. The Leave vote in these places appears to be significantly higher than in well-off rural areas. In retrospect , it will be seen to be completely daft for any government to ask the people for their support when it’s been attacking their living standards for the past five years. Continue reading

Planning gain? Part 2

The controversial housing elements of the  “worst-ever” Housing (and Planning) Act have, quite rightly, dominated recent debate, but the planning elements will also have a significant impact upon housing providers. Trawling through the published Act you are struck again and again by the fact this is an extreme enabling Act, leaving almost all of the detail to future regulation. This is government by ministerial diktat, democracy denied.

The main thesis of Part 6, which deals with planning in England, is that the planning system is acting as a blockage to house-building and must be unblocked – a view that many would contest. I have highlighted some of the key sections below.  Continue reading

Planning Gain?

Five years ago I was engaged in some fierce twitter discussions with countryside campaigners over the draft National Planning Policy Framework (the National Trust described me as one of their fiercest critics). Opponents of the NPPF, which condensed 3,000 pages of planning policy into a 55-page document, claimed it would lead to a surge in house-building on Green Belt and greenfield land and “concrete over the countryside”, a phrase that they used repeatedly. Here is a particularly egregious example of the propaganda war that was being fought at the time. Continue reading