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River Man

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Everything posted by River Man

  1. The attractions of Brighton are pretty obvious - it's not just the nightlife, it's also the amount of cultural activities going on (such as the Brighton festival) - music, theatre, comedy etc. Nowhere else in England - well perhaps Manchester - has such an amount going on in such a compact area. Plus, it's an hour from London, has one of the best climates in the UK, and has lots of beautiful areas with Regency and Georgian squares and houses. I think some visitors fail to realise how many quiet pretty enclaves there are around Brighton & Hove, which are very different to the admittedly busy centre. I also disagree that is not a place to bring up children. I wouldn't do it in the central areas admittedly but Hove is a brilliant place to bring up kids. I know from experience! (See Lewes as well, although admittedly more separate, and even more amazingly expensive). Brighton's economy is much better than it used to be, and has held up much better than many places during the recession. Having said that, wages are quite low, but I think that is as much to do with the number of young people than anything else.
  2. I think he meant leave the South East, not leave the country. Or do you think the South East is all that matters?
  3. People's conceptions of average density are a bit skewed by city centre schemes. In England as a whole the average density was 43 dph in 2007-2010, up from 38 in 03-06. It's 41 in the South East. However this is skewed by a few areas. The average density of new develpoment in the suburban south east is much lower. So GUildford - 20 dph. Mid Sussex - 34 dph. Reigate & Banstead - 30 dph. You're talking about developmetn at much higher densities than now. You can see the figures in the 'density' tables here: http://www.communities.gov.uk/planningandbuilding/planningbuilding/planningstatistics/livetables/landusechange/ I have to take you up on the last point - "no need for more work space, public services, etc.". This is just simply wrong. Imagine you build a 1,000-unit scheme in Mid Sussex north of Brighton. It fills up with young people living in Brighton or London who can't afford to buy there. Are they going to drive back to where they used to live to go to the supermarket or local shops? Or will they clog up the streets of Burgess Hill when they nip out to buy a paper? Where will their kids go to school when they partner up and reproduce - will they be bussed into Brighton en masse? If they need to drive everywhere to go to services then we'll need more road capacity and a lot more parking, which will be difficult to provide at the density you suggest. I'm not a VI, I'm on your side, but the situation is a tad more complicated than you suggest.
  4. I tend to agree. However, we are the only Western European nation without a minimum size for new homes. The late Victorians had by-laws which gave minimum standards for ceiling heights, room sizes, house sizes etc. I Think they may have persisted to the 1930s. That is also partly the reason why earlier houses are larger. (as well as planning) Incidentally the housebuilders do have a lot of land around cities sewn up in options which would take a long time to unpick, even if we abandoned the planning system tomorrow. Then we'd have the problem that landowners near cities would have to get used to lower land values - it might take them a while to decide it's wroth it to sell, rather than simply waiting until prices go higher. It's our planning system, not a planning system, that is the problem: the Dutch have a really prohibitive, dictatorial planning system and yet they build much, much more then we do. The Belgians have a very limited one and their housing is not as good quality as their neighbours to the East.
  5. Hang on. 2 million houses at say, 30 dwellings per hectare, requires 66,666 hectares or 667 sq km. The land area of the south east is 19096 sq km, so the land area required is 3.5%, and that's not taking into account roads, schools, other infrastructure, etc etc, shops if we drop it to 20 dwellings per hectare - the figure increases to 5.2%.
  6. That may be true in some parts of the USA, but having spent time working in New York and LA, some of my colleagues did commutes that were mind-bogglingly long and arduous even by London standards.
  7. "Baby boomers" is a phrase nicked from the US where their birth rate peaked in teh late 1940s/ early 1950s. The peak in post-war UK fertility was 1965. Our baby boomers are currenly 47, not in their 70s.
  8. "It is not a novel that should be cast aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.” ---- Dorothy Parker on Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand Let us not forget that Alan Greenspan, the architect of the entire credit boom, was one of Rand's closest disciples.
  9. Sounds not unlike the English - peas in a pod. Mind you, in my experience, many Germans are real anglophiles, a love that is not returned. There are english 'clubs' in every town in Germany: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/3743978/Britain-ich-liebe-dich.html
  10. "There isn't much point arguing about the word "libertarian." It would make about as much sense to argue with an unreconstructed Stalinist about the word "democracy" — recall that they called what they'd constructed "peoples' democracies." The weird offshoot of ultra-right individualist anarchism that is called "libertarian" here happens to amount to advocacy of perhaps the worst kind of imaginable tyranny, namely unaccountable private tyranny. If they want to call that "libertarian," fine; after all, Stalin called his system "democratic." But why bother arguing about it?" - Noam Chomsky "Libertarians complain that the state is parasitic, an excrescence on society. They think it’s like a tumor you could cut out, leaving the patient just as he was, only healthier. They’ve been mystified by their own metaphors. Like the market, the state is an activity, not an entity. The only way to abolish the state is to change the way of life it forms a part of. That way of life, if you call that living, revolves around work and takes in bureaucracy, moralism, schooling, money, and more. Libertarians are conservatives because they avowedly want to maintain most of this mess and so unwittingly perpetuate the rest of the racket. But they’re bad conservatives because they’ve forgotten the reality of institutional and ideological interconnection which was the original insight of the historical conservatives." - Bob Black "Even if you want no state, or a minimal state, then you have to argue point by point. Especially since the minimalists want to keep the economic and police system that keeps them privileged. That's libertarians for you — anarchists who want police protection from their slaves. No! If you want to make the minimum-state case, you have to argue it from the ground up. "
  11. meanwhile, you'd be busy raging against the coercion and oppression and general infringement of my liberties produced by your court system and all its hangers-on and bureaucrats, which has become so massively expensive to fund as a result of all normal state responsibilites being passed on to it that it consumes 60% of GDP and the bulk of most people and companies' time and effort.
  12. In Sweden, there is a rule called 'allemansraat' (All men's right). You can walk and indeed camp anywhere as long as you do not (i) damage crops or (ii) come within a certain distance of a dwelling. Surely you have to compel people to use insurance, so there is some government regulation and compulsion? Otherwise why would you take it if you can socialise your costs? Here's a question for the libertarians: should people be allowed to drive on the wrong side of the road, as long as they have insurance for any damage they cause?
  13. I see we probably agree with quite a few things. I however have a real problem with how people can 'own' land in any case - they haven't created it or made it. It was there in any case - title only exists because someone came along and decided it was theirs, or, more commonly in Britain, because it was enclosed or emparked and awarded to some chosen general on the basis of success in some military campaign. Why should someone, by owning land, restrict the freedoms of other people to walk across it or use it? Incidentally, I see you are a fan of Hayek. Have you come across this quote, from "Individualism and Economic Order": "We need only turn to the problems which arise in connection with land, particularly with regard to urban land in modern large towns, in order to realize that a conception of property which is based on the assumption that the use of a particular item of property affects only the interests of its owner breaks down. There can be no doubt that a good many, at least, of the problems with which the modern town planner is concerned are genuine problems with which governments or local authorities are bound to concern themselves. " My understanding is that he thought some form of land use planning was necessary because the externalities were so intense and all-pervading.
  14. Cities contain hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people and are pretty central to civilisation and economic progress. Bungalows in the middle of nowhere are not. I suppose we could accept the right of property owners to build but we would have to ensure they pay the correct price for their decision. i.e. the costs tothose suffering new roads, or additional traffic. We certainly shouldn't let those paying for efficient services in cities - water, gas, electircity - subisidise having to pay for those amenities to reach those in isolated houses. We certainly should make sure they pay the additional petrol or labour costs should an ambulance driver ever have to reach them. We'd also have to make sure they pay the costs of any new schooling required. Externalites, old chap. I alsohappen to think that in a democracy the desire of millions for an attractive countryside or country generally outweighs those of someone who has simply bought land. In ENgland, at least, buying land is not an absolute right. That's why we have rights of way and why trespass is a civil, not a criminal, offence. As Churchill said in 1909: "‘The immemorial custom of every modern State, the mature conclusions of many of the greatest thinkers, have placed the tenure, transfer and obligations of land in a wholly different category from other classes of property. The mere obvious physical distinction between land, which is a vital necessity of every human being and other property, is in itself sufficient to justify a clear differentiation in its treatment, the view taken by the State of the conditions which govern the tenure of land from that which should regulate forms of traffic in other forms of property.’ Speech to the House of Commons on Land and Poverty, 4 May 1909
  15. I just added a few more comparators to your list - Wales and Scotland (because you were talking about Britain earlier, not England) and for comparison France and Germany. Of course the North West has a higher density that the South East - it includes Liverpool, Manchester and all their suburbs and associated towns - urban areas of 5m people - while the urban area which the South East is dependent on has been deliberately excluded! I'm not sure why London (population 8m) is a different case to the whole Liverpool-Manchester conurbation (5m to 6m, depending on where you stop counting). If you take Merseyside and Greater Manchester out of the North West the population density is 211 per sq km, half that of the South East. Same goes for the West Midlands - take the conurbation out adn it drops to 217, roughly the same as the South West. The East is relativley empty, yes, but not the bits near London - its Norfolk (in particular) as well as Suffolk which produce that. The population density of Hertfordshire is 684 per sq km, and Essex 464, higher than the South East region. Re: Brighton. While I agree on outward expansion for many towns - Reading, Cambridge etc - Brighton is a bit of a special case because of the South Downs, pretty much the only areaa of empty walking land in the South East - it really is quite unique in the south. It is that rare bit of protected countryside that you can genuinely say is special. Unfortunately it does prevent Brighton extending to the north - although it comes pretty close if you've driven out through Patcham - while on the other sides it's sea, Hove and Rottingdean. The other issue is that Brighton is now effectively a commuter town for London. IThe train line connecting the two is the busiest, and apparently most overcrowded, in the country. It seriously needs an upgrade if Brighton were to expand. Incidentally it was inappropriate development on the Downs which triggered the whole plannign system ./ grene belt etc - Woodingdean, Peacehaven etc -
  16. I know the West of Ireland quite well, and a lot of inappropriate bungalows have cropped up alll over the place in the last ten years. "Bungalow blight" is a well-documented phenomenon. Even the Policy Exchange's trio of booklets having a pop at the English planning system slated the Irish model as produced poor outcomes, and mentioned bungalow blight. Your argument suggests you can never make value judgements about the countryside, because it is not in its original state. Yet people do recognise that Bath is more beautiful than Basingstoke - even the people who live in Basingstoke.
  17. You think we should allow housing development on the South Downs? perhaps a new estate at Devil's Dyke? What Sussex needs is a fast east-west connection so it would be easier to get from Littlehampton and Hastings (cheaper housing) To Brighton.
  18. Tired also compared Britain to Germany but fails to recognise that Germany's population is much more equally distributed, partly because it is quite a young country and is still really composed of lots of little city-states - Munich, Hamburg, Berlin, Dusseldorf, Hanover, Dresden etc. In contrast almost all our population is concentrated south of Leeds and east of Bristol, and whole swathes of Scotland, Wales and the far NOrth and far West of England are empty by European standards. For example, Scotland, which comprises about a third of the land area of Britain, is less densely populated than France and the HIghlands (more than half of Scotland) are at Swedish population densities!
  19. A few points. Firstly, I know quite a few town planners and they are mostly pro-growth and pro-more housing. The problem they have is the total opposition of councillors, thinking of their votes. Secondly, I am in favour of both housing in the South, but it has to be done carefully. Compare Germany, Holland, Denmark, etc where they have built new housing sensibly with lots of transport links and in well planned communities, with Ireland where they have completely ruined much of their most beautiful countryside by sticking ugly isloted houses all over the place. (Apparently there is a similar contrast between Belgium, where planning is laissez faire and there is a lot of ugly inappropriate housing, and more planned Holland). We need massive investment in infrastructure - and I Mean trams, trains etc not necessarily huge motorways - to go with housing growth/ Thirdly, London was deliberately de-densified. Government was terrifed of what they called 'megalopolis' - they actively moved people out of the centre and into Watford, Croydon etc and further afield to Stevenage or Basingstoke. London was losing population after the war and this decline happened right up until the late 70s - the belief was that London would continue to fade and that its decline had to be managed. So there are other reasons why Central London is so much less dense than Paris or New York. Google 'abercrombie plan' for more info.
  20. I think you're ranting about the wrong people. The Town and Country Planning Association is the descendent of the Garden Cities Association. They have consistently argued for massive housing growth, new towns, a review of the boundary between town and country, etc. etc. They're on your side, old chap.
  21. The report argues that South East England is not particularly densely populated, with many European regions having higher population densities. My point is that (i) the ones he is comparing against are much smaller and (ii) many include large urban areas which are not included in the South East. England is the most densely populated large country in Europe - where else do 55m odd people live in such a small space? And South East England and London the most populous part of it - where else do 15m people live in such a small space? People feel that England is quite crowded. This is not an illusion - it is quite crowded. I am in favour of more house building, but we have to do it carefully and sensibly, given the limits to, for example, water supply and the stress on transport infrastructure and noise pollution, for example. We need a national spatial plan, as they have in other densely populated adn economically successful parts of Northern Europe. I also note in the report that he only focusses on english-speaking countries when he compares affordability and housing delivery. 'Restrictive' planning systems are not incompatible with providing more housing. The Netherlands has a very complex and developed planning system - for example all development in the 'green heart' of the country is forbidden - yet it has managed to build vast numbers of houses over the past five to ten years.
  22. This is from a TCPA report from a while ago, on England, which I think sums it up: "No other European country has the same concentration of development. The Netherlands and the Rhine-Ruhr corridor are similar in density but their scales are more related to the three south-eastern regions of England [The South East, London and the East of England]. Countries such as Germany, France and Italy, which have similar populations, do not have the same pattern of continuous overlapping metropolitan areas and emergent super-cities. They have more discrete, geographically separated city-regions."
  23. This is his list: (with density in persons per km2) South Holland (NL) 1,254 North Holland (NL) 1,008 Utrecht (NL) 887 Zug (CH) 535 Basel-Landschaft (CH) 527 North Rhine-Westphalia (DE) 524 Limburg (NL) 522 Noord-Brabant (NL) 499 Flanders (BE) 462 Aargau (CH) 430 South East (UK) 425 We can discount Zug (population 113,000) and Basel-Landschaft (275,000) - tiny and not reall relevant. The South East figure refers just to the South East region, not London. This means it is not comparing like with like - as I said South Holland includes Rotterdam and North Holland Amsterdam (As well as the other randstad cities) and North Rhine-Westphalia includes Dortmund, Dusseldorf etc. and the other Ruhr cities. If we add London to the South East we get a population density of 765, higher than everywhere except Utrecht and the two Hollands. Except the population of those three together is just 7.3m (South Holland 3.5m, North Holland 2.6m, Utretcht .12m) - half the size of the 15.8m population of London & the South East!! The only comparable area in that list is North Rhine-Westphalia which is still only two thirds as densely populated as London & the South East. Most of the other areas are small - Limburg (1.1m), Noord-Brabant (2.4m), Aargau (1.4m). It's simply not comparing like with like.
  24. I completely agree. We've just had the biggest credit bubble in history, much of which was aimed at property, and driven by ultra-low real interest rates. That is the real reason for such high prices. Yes, planning is a factor - but all we can say is that it makes prices higher than they would be otherwise. We can't say that it is the sole reason for prices being as high as they are.
  25. This list is a bit disingenous. THe population of the South East is around 15m, the population of the Dutch regions he mentions is more like 3m. Hardly comparable. Also, the South East excludes London, whereas NOrth Holland and South Holland includes Amsterdam and Rotterdam respectively. If you add London to the South East it rockets up the table. I would insist that there is nowhere else in Europe where 20m people live at such high densities than in South-Eastern England. Yes parts of Germany and Holland are equally or slightly more densely populated but hte overall scale (i.e. the number of people) is smaller. Also, I found the report very simplistic, as might be expected from a think tank that thinks that free markets are the solution to everything. House prices have gone up so much for two reasons. (i) yes, we don't have enough but also (ii) we had an ultra-competitive mortgage market which often offered products at negative real interest rates. What I'd really like to ask Mr Niemitz is - if interest rates had stayed at 8,9,10% plus - would prices have risen as much - even if planning rules had been even more restrictive?
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