Friday, September 12, 2008

Inner cities become the preserve of immigrants, poor people, and childless couples.

Compact and bijou - the slums of tomorrow?

New homes in England are being built smaller than almost anywhere else in Europe, a new exhibition reveals. Are the gleaming new apartments buildings of the past decade the inner-city slums of tomorrow?

Posted by matt @ 01:46 PM (1551 views)
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23 thoughts on “Inner cities become the preserve of immigrants, poor people, and childless couples.

  • mark wadsworth says:

    The Final Triumph of all my pet hates!

    This is all the result of: NIMBYism, morally corrupt and/or economically clueless National Government, Greenie-ism, lax immigration controls, a Welfare State designed to trap people in poverty, corrupt planning officials and local government, a tax/welfare system that is heavily weighted against working couples with children, criminalisation of cannabis/drugs, the average voter’s obsession with property prices and a miserable failure to introduce Land Value Tax.

    A ten thousand word essay is in order.

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  • “Each of the architects in the exhibition is showing a British housing scheme and a foreign housing scheme. It turns out we’re building the smallest dwellings in Western Europe. This is because England and Wales are the only parts of Europe without designated space standards.”

    …….we used to. I used to live in a council flat in SW London, and the room sizes were palatial in comparison with the broom cupboard newbuilds, developers have expected, and to my astonishment still do, expect us to pay huge prices for. Bring back minimum dwelling sizes and give everyone the chance to enjoy space. Are these newbuilds the new social housing, I hope the councils will see fit to knock two into one and make half decent living accommodation.

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  • planning4acrash says:

    I’m a planner. We have affordable house policies raising private house prices, policies encourage density to meet housing targets so flats instead of family houses are built, and gardens/allotments are out of the question. No free market, Total chaos.

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  • “Luxury Apartments” these are usually called…..

    Has anyone seen a newbuilt falt in the last five years which has not been marketed as “Luxury”?

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  • mark wadsworth says:

    Bystander, developers aren’t to blame; every extra £10,000 that a residential plot costs (because of artificial scarcity) means the actaul dwelling has to come down in size by 75 square feet (or whatever the maths are). And forget gardens or off-street parking.

    P4AC, good stuff. Do you have a blog or something where you explain all this? I only know this from the outside looking in.

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  • Mark Wadsworth hear hear.

    Exactly.

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  • I call BS. Densification is the norm in Europe (look at the Netherlands). I question the advocacy of the comparisons and ultimately it boils down to British Developers profiteering. Fancy that.

    p.s I am also a planner.

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  • I disagree and agree Mark Wadsworth, if government made it illegal to build spaces designated as habitable smaller than a set square footage, like they used to and like they do in mainland Europe, then the developers would have to do so, and not flood the market with tiny boxes which are fancifully called city centre flats for the urban professional, but if it wasn’t for the GREED of the developer they may build properties which are indeed habitable. I have viewed many ‘compact’ / ‘bijou’ flats over the past years, and each one has got smaller and smaller and more and more expensive. Not just the big developers either, but also the small firms. Saying the developers aren’t to blame is a little like saying the SS weren’t to blame for the atrocities in Dachau/ Auschwitz, they were made to do it by market forces or the powers that be. Everyone has a choice, if greed is your only goal then life is pretty bl**dy shallow.

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  • This reminds me of something I read recently about the development of housing slums in the east end at the turn of the 20th century.
    Property tycoons at that time made more per square foot out of renting in the East End than out of mansions in Chelsea and Mayfair because of the density of renters.
    (Maybe someone can source the article?)

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  • planning4acrash says:

    Hi Mark. I don’t have a blog. Maybe I should get one?! One of the most peverse policies is the threshold for affordable housing. Any development with 10+ units in London and some other places must provide 40% affordable housing. Anything less provides none. Therefore, any small site capable of cramming 10 units will be forced to provide them and the affordable housing. This means that there is a particular site size in London, probably the most common size of site, where instead of getting a couple of large family houses, or maybe a few medium sized family houses, we see 10+ flats. Of course, it works both ways, and, in locations where you want to see small flats, they put an application with nine flats to avoid affordable housing.

    Now, part of it is likely also to be due to inflation. We have had a buffer of quality up until recently. Goods and houses have been such good quality and generous in this country since the 1950’s, but, instead of cheaper prices, we imported lower and lower quality goods. That has occured to some extent with flats. You get lower cielings, less garden, more overdevelopment, smaller rooms, uPVC instead of good quality timber, and on.

    You also have planning gain, where council’s tax developers by between £20 and £30k a dwellinghouse! What does the money go on? Its supposed to pay for highways, education, affordable housing, etc, etc. The list is almost endless. Many Council’s apply cost multipliers, rake in the money, then often have to pay it back for not finding a way to spend it. Some Council’s just spend it totally randomly on completely different things, because the money is sometimes not ringfenced once it gets into the coffers. Developers have to make more flats to pay for this exhorbitant taxation. Now, planning gain is part rational, because it pays for the infrastructure associated with a flats. For example, £13,000 or so goes per child yield to provide school spaces for new inhabitants to an area. I have studied all planning gain policies in the country however, and see a very random approach. For example, I looked at money for open space, where cash is demanded for maintenaince of open space. There was a total random distribution of time periods. Some asking for none, others asking for 17, a slight concentration of council’s looking for circa 8yrs.

    Question is, if our currency wasn’t inflationary, and if we had a smaller state, i.e. less wars, and, less need for socialist support once inflation is irradicated, would council’s be able to build up a surplus with a successful economy, enough to fund expansion without need to rape developers, allowing them to build decent homes? Imagine how much better houses/flats would be if each wasn’t taxed by £30,000 ontop of all the stamp duty, VAT, corporation tax, etc. Its a wonder that the development industry even exists! Tho, as ever, smaller developers often get trashed, whilst larger developers can afford decent representation to pay a lower cost per unit.

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  • Firstly there is no shortage of land in the United Kingdom this is a myth — 83% of land is owned by less than 1% of UK citizens many of them aristocrats and shareholders in big business. There are historic reasons for this – the House of Lords dominated in the past two hundred years and land reforms were never on the cards. 6,000 aristocratic families owned most of the land. Also property rights were preserved unlike any other country. There are millions of hectares of land in the hands of private landowners or big business in “overcrowded Britain”.

    The rest of 59 million of us have only 14% of space.

    The result is a disgrace as many in Britain cannot afford a home or are forced to live with families in new built shoeboxes. For instance Holker Estate owns more than 15,000 acres of land in south Cumbria and this estate is amongst the smallest of the 1000 large estates in Britain. In so called over crowded palaces like Surrey, Kent, Bedfordshire there have dozens of equally large estates. IT IS ABSURD TO DESCRIBE OURSEVES AS OVERCROWDED?

    Britain’s strict planning laws are also a problem. There is another myth perpetuated by land owning vested interests, and those middle calls Britons lucky enough to have a house and paddock in the country, that our Garden of England will be spoilt.
    Well many other countries have also beautiful countryside – Switzerland, Germany and France as examples – but they still issue planning permission for land use in a sensible balanced manner at six times the rate as ourselves . The logic that building will spoil the scenery is stupid if applied universally the world would never develop. China would never build its cities. No new farms in Argentina, the population Britain is growing we need to make a sensible compromise or else we will not progress,we will remain frozen in time.

    as a country with many millions of us living with huge mortgages and a degraded quality of live. Britain will become a nation of very unhappy people.

    Another myth is this Island is overcrowded due to immigrants.

    The majority of immigrants are packed tightly together in inner cities any of them in ghettos. The hardly venture out into our beautiful countryside. It is another myth these people are making the Island overcrowded on the contrary they are helping to lessen overcrowding by taking up the lest possible space in the worst areas.

    Let all immigrants worldwide in the past fifty years return to own countries. Believe me Britain would be much more crowded then it is today. Let all immigrants or their descendents return to this Island who left in the past 200 years return – this Island will be so overcrowded it will since into the sea.

    I say this because myths of immigration, lack of land, countryside will be spoiled only serve the interests of a very few. British society as a whole suffers by the depreciation of the standard of living.

    If British children are brought up on a lesser standard of living in Britain, then our future generations will find themselves dimnished vis the rest of the world.

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  • mark wadsworth says:

    @ bystander.

    It is a simple equation. Cost of new build = cost of construction minus cost/value of land. Developers make absurd profits in the good years because they are collecting windfall gains on increase in land values. Take it from me, my property developer clients make more money by getting planning permission that they do from actually building new homes or offices or factories. And in the bad years, developers make catastrophic losses because their undeveloped land is plummeting in value.

    Developers are often accused of ‘hoarding’ land banks, but they can only do this because of ridiculously restrictive planning laws, which in turn I do not blame on the gummint, I blame this fair and square on the NIMBYs. If we (the people) were like in the 1950s and allowed 300,000 or 400,000 new homes to be built each year, then developers wouldn’t be able to hoard land – you can only hoard a scarce resource but not a plentiful one.

    @ P4AC, I totally agree, the planning gains ‘tax’/s106 agreement is evil, IMHO Land Value Tax is the way forward – if councils do their job properly and ensure that an area is a nice area to live (for existing and new residents) then all things being equal, they will get more LVT. A council would be more like a business – if the value of a particular service or amenity is provides exceeds the cost then that service or amenity is worth providing. Else not, just like any other business.

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  • planning4acrash says:

    Also, there is the impact of inflation. Just as consumers have downgraded to cheap made, fall apart products produced by globalist corporations in China, we have downgraded in building materials and property sizes to deal with exorbitant house building inflation.

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  • planning4acrash says:

    I don’t like the NIMBY argument. Truth is, locals need to have a say, democracy is an important part of planning. The NIMBY phrase has become a catch all cliche to cover up for the fact that enough planning permission is granted by the system, but developers don’t build, partly through land banking, partly because inflation makes it impossible for businesses to plan big projects, and, partly because of exorbitant planning gain tax.

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  • We have absolutely no imagination in this country when it comes to our future. Money, money, money. Given a free hand, developers will continue to build small and shoddy to maximise profit. Imagining that any ‘market’ will sort this out is a joke. Having said that, there is plenty of land to build on, it’s just that people (rightly) have no confidence that new housing in rural, village, or green belt areas will do anything to enhance the environment. We all know that decent architecture can enhance a landscape, but are Barratt’s the people to rely on for that? Housing will last for generations and our countryside will not return overnight when we make mistakes. We need better, realistic planning – if that means more, then so be it. LVT sounds good to me. As for the immigration argument – b*llocks – i’m with jaffa on that one.

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  • mark wadsworth says:

    Jaffa100, good stuff, maybe I ought to clarify on immigration point:

    It is not the absolute numbers coming in that matters (I doubt all in all that net immigration has had that much of an impact compared to rest of bubble factors) nearly as much as the fact we’re getting welfare scroungers and criminals (who are busily turning areas into ghettoes that weren’t previously so). If it were ordinary hard working half-way educated English speakers of whatever race or nationality, then it wouldn’t be an issue, I wouldn’t mind in the slightest etc etc.

    P4AC, I think it is the NIMBYs, maybe it isn’t (you’re the expert). I fully understand where they’re coming from. But the point is, with Land Value Tax, if they drive up the value of their own land via scarcity, then at least they are paying back in to the system to compensate those who are priced out, etc.

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  • last_days_of_disco says:

    The totally weird thing about all this is that its the interference of the Labour party and their nannying that has just been an utter disaster.

    They seem to have been some dumb in their legislation. They are really the dumbest Labour party we have every had.

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  • last_days_of_disco says:

    oops, typing too quickly again, “some dumb” should be “so dumb”. ahem…

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  • last_days_of_disco says:

    and “every” => “ever”, oh man its been a tough week

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  • Tenyearstogetmymoneyback says:

    A really good discussion going on here.

    The thing that really annoys me is when perfectly good houses are torn down to build flats.

    Someone I know was renting in an Edwardian house that had been converted into four flats.
    Unsurprisingly, last year it was torn down and replaced by a new block of ten. So for all that
    effort the country has only gained six poxey flats.

    To my surprise when I looked on Google maps you can see the house being destroyed !

    http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?ie=UTF8&ll=50.721791,-1.795693&spn=0.000944,0.002647&t=h&z=19

    Most of the surrounding houses have gone as well. In fact the local newspaper reckon 140 houses in Bournemouth
    have been demolished in the last year to build “Luxury Apartments” including houses less than ten years old !

    A similar thing has happened on by route into work. Whats more the 1930s house that was
    demolished is being replaced by what looks like a prefab with panels made of wood and felt.

    A question for Mark Wadsworth about land value tax (which I have read up on).
    Surely the value of the land is determined by the councils deciding what can be built there.
    Any of the above would be a good example. How much is the lands value when there is one house house on it?
    How much with ten flats ?

    The system I read about which sounded good would be to auction planning permission.
    It worked with mobile phone licences.

    :- Duncan

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  • just back from a short trip to France – stayed in a very untouristy area close to Boulogne.

    All the tiny non-entity villages/towns were tidy, had pretty flower borders, interestingly deisgned roundabouts, smartly paved centres, a range of small shops etc and I came home to a UK ‘tourist’ centre with cracked pavements, litter, the infinite variety of ‘Tescos’ and the usual AntiSocial British Outlook

    Still, at least the UK has the ‘masters of the universe’ and the powerhouse of the City, where all the French have is power companies (nuclear + more wind turbines than I’d seen in Denmark), TGVs, vast wine growing regions, an appreciation of food and 35hour working weeks….

    ..can someone remind me why it is that everyone wants to immigrate here? I think I’ve forgotten….

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  • it_is_going_with_a_bang says:

    Slums of today in my opinion.
    The one person you definitely will not find living there is the person who designed or paid for to be built.
    Whilst they would be more than happy to tell you how much luxury they are offering you …

    They will be living in Victorian 6 bedroom detached house venturing off to a villa or chalet for holiday and would drop dead at the thought of being caged up in one of their own flats.

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  • Uncommonadvice says:

    There is an element of truth in this. I know Northampton really well, and the New Build Flats along the side of the Grand Union Canal and the River Nene are already a bit ropey.

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