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Two Ft Articles On Housing Markets Today

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Martin Wolf reports on a new study into how planning regulations stifle housebuilding, and what should be done:


The country lobby likes to argue that this government ignores its interests. Nothing could be further from the truth. Labour, in power, may have decided to protect foxes from hunting with hounds. But it continues to protect country people from encroachment by the urban population that put it in office. More fundamentally, it has continued to support the interests of those who already own houses against those who aspire to do so. The shortage of land that creates this result is as artificial as it is absurd. The government should end it.

An excellent article on the rise of STR in the US, and how it makes financial sense.


“Buying remains an obvious choice in large swathes of the US, but in the high-value areas the logic has swung decisively in favour of renting,” says Mark Zandi, chief analyst at Economy.com. “Given the high transaction costs in the US, it may only make sense for many if you have a horizon of 10 years or more.” The number of Americans coming to a similar conclusion has been on the rise. According to the confidence survey from the University of Michigan, close to 30 per cent of Americans now think it is a bad time to buy – higher than at any point since the early 1980s.

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“It’s fairly common to say that renting is like throwing money down the drain, but people forget that there is a lot of that in owning too,” says Ian Morris, an economist at HSBC. “There is not a lot of difference between paying rent to a landlord or interest to a bank.”


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I'd like to see his fourth point implemented - "The most rational way to do this is to create a presumption that development will be permitted (on all land) , except that explicitly designated as being of exceptional natural value"

Why not? The ides seems a fair one to me - however it wouldn't suit the big landowners who punch, politically, well above their weight!

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Indeed, it's an unholy alliance, there are very cynical reasons why Prescott has enforced density targets that are deemed cruel if applied to cattle, or persued absurd brownfield policies of building unwanted flats on contaminated next to trunk roads. Both are completely OTT and encourage 'urban cramming', the destruction of the urban environment and open spaces in the city just to protect disused scrubland on the fringe. I would much rather live in a medium density environment like Hamburg and appreciate open spaces within the city itself on a daily basis than live in an urban hell hole just to protect some unused countryside 5 miles away.

The population of many UK cities has been shrinking for many years now as people move away, obviously Prescott considers forced development of inner city areas as a good way of shoring up the Labour vote, and a way of countering the dispersal of people into rural constituencies, which are almost always Tory. There again, he might just be a little thick.

All this conveniently dovetails with the CPRE style reactionaries. However it will be counter productive, such social engineering on a grand scale will fail due ever increasing numbers of people wanting to escape the grossly over developed urban environment and oppressive densities. Modern urban developments are below the standard of failed 60's housing projects, they are smaller and in awful locations, they have fewer surrounding services, they certainly have less open space around them and the build quality is equally as questionable, they are built to maximize council tax income, they are the slums of tomorrow... today. They are the dystopian opposite of Garden Cities.

Their new found bedfellows will cause the government some imminent problems, as they've already discovered when it comes to windfarms, the planning laws will undermine government energy policy in their current form, Blair will certainly not be able to build his nuclear fleet under the current system. Economic growth and competitiveness is also a factor, both the road and rail networks are already at capacity and rationing isn't a solution if people are simply trying to get to work in the morning (to pay taxes) and given that government wants more people working, from new mothers to migrant workers. Crash Gordon has publicly stated that the planning system is the major reason why our retail productivity is 25% below that of the US.

The government cannot reconcile their energy, economic or immigration policies with the current planning system.

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  • 302 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?

      • down 5% +
      • down 2.5%
      • Even
      • up 2.5%
      • up 5%

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