Monday, September 14, 2009

Vote NIMBY, go NIMBY

Housebuilders warn of ‘hiatus’ from Tory plan

"Caroline Spelman, shadow communities secretary, has written to councils warning them not to make decisions on controversial planning issues until after the general election. She promised them they would be able to “put the brakes” on any elements of regional spatial strategies that they found “undesirable”. Ms Spelman also told local authorities that a Tory government would not pay “a penny of compensation” to speculative developers that saw their plans fall by the wayside.... Bob Neill, shadow local government minister, said there was evidence the government was pressing councils to sign up to “unsustainable housing targets” and removing green belt land."

Posted by mark wadsworth @ 08:47 PM (1264 views)
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20 thoughts on “Vote NIMBY, go NIMBY

  • Our local Lib Dem leader was spouting about building on new fields, forgetting that most of her constituency is newly built on fields.

    We need more houses to bring prices down, there should be a choice of sevral sensibly priced plots in anby town or village for those prepared to have a house built and put ‘real’ money into that local economy.

    There doesn’t seem to be a shortage of £500k + building plots, how about a few for us normal people at £50-100k for family houses with sensible gardens.

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  • Housing supply makes no difference to prices, it’s all about finance. Now suppose you made the council tax say 1or 2% of the property value…? That might encourage a few under-occupiers to trade down.

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  • The shortage of UK housing is a modern myth, which will become apparent once speculation subsides. When the need comes for the island to produce enough food to sustain its population, we may realise that the 10% of the UK which we’ve concreted over is quite enough.

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  • @cyril

    I agree that in recent times, easy credit has been the dominant factor in setting house prices but surely in the long run, supply will affect demand.

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  • There is no shortage housing especially if you would like to live in the sort of flat speculative builders have plagued or town and city centers with. If however you want to live somewhere nice then that is an entirely different matter! What people want and what profit driven property developers and the UK’s large building companies supply is a major part of the problem.

    Demographics and immigration are also another issue that needs addressing as the UK simply cannot support the level of population it already has never mind an ever increasing influx of unskilled cheap labour that appears to be working in every low paid job going especially hand car washes.

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  • @ Cyril, that sounds a bit like LVT, now you’re talking!

    @ D&G, sure in terms of actual physical stock, there’s enough to go round, but it’s very unevenly distributed. It’s not much consolation to a young couple wanting to have kids if there are loads of nice semi detached homes, but each of those has a little old NIMBY lady living in it whining about her council tax. I don’t see them trading down whatever happens to prices. And even if it were more evenly distributed, the UK has the smallest houses in Western Europe.

    This whole “we can’t feed ourselves” thing is another myth. If the sh1t hit the fan, we could produce three times as much food (even though the UK is more or less self-sufficient), it would just be a lot more labour intensive. And if the sh1t doesn’t hit the fan, I am sure most young couple would be happy to pay an extra ten per cent on their food bill if it cut twenty per cent off the cost of a house.

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  • @4 quiet guy – I assume you mean supply will affect prices! Yes there is a small effect but even the govt admits that supply makes very little difference to affordability because the new supply is tiny compared to the housing stock.
    The problem is, however many you build, people seem to spend all their money on houses so the price is always sky high. But if you build more, you will get slightly more space for your money. For example my brother-in-law and his wife have a 4 bedroom house with 3 bathrooms. One bedroom is for the cats.
    All this planning stuff is for the benefit of property developers not buyers.

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  • Supply of what is required most definately does effect prices.

    Further if you could get a nice plot in any town or village you chose for say £50k (£30k will get you a nice one in France) and to get a nice detatched 4 bed family house built for you would cost say £150k. Even if it took a year to see it through, would you buy one of the same standard ready made for £4-500k.
    No you wouldn’t, so supply would effect price, providing it’s supply of what is required.
    And before we start an arguement about everyone wanting to live in a chocolate box village etc. Plots can be graded and specifications for properties can also be preset. Therefore if you want to live in Beautiful village x, then not only will you pay a premium for the plot, but the build cost for a thatched cottage for example will be double that of a regular house.

    Fly over or Google Earth over the UK, there is loads of space. The only reason you think it’s full is because you drive along it’s roads which are surrounded by buildings etc.

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  • It’s not just about building on green fields. Why does the UK have so few decent American-style apartment blocks? Most residential buildings in inner London are no more than four stories high, despite sky-high land values which easily justify high-rise apartment blocks. We could solve the housing crisis by building up, not just out.

    If people are so opposed to building on green fields, why are they also opposed to the redevelopment of neglected town centres with modern high-rise towers?

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  • drewster

    There is a place for apartment blocks, but I don’t think they’re suitable for families. IMO we have more than enough apartments in this country now.
    What we need are well designed, architecturally pleasing family homes with sensible gardens. And alot more of them. Or at least a continuing supply of plots in each town & village.
    Just the supply and availability of plots will keep overall prices down as I’ve highlighted above.

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  • drewster and str2007: I think we need both. There should definitely be more family plots released but high rises are a good solution if done correctly.

    I once lived in an apartment in the States. It was 2100 square feet, which is seriously spacious when you dispense with the staircase and landing required by a 2-storey design. Historically UK apartments are 2 bedroom units of about 700 to 900 square feet. It’s the meanness of specification that has caused the stigma. If we built spacious 3 and 4 bed high-rise apartments of circa 2000 square feet, people would enjoy living in them. The build cost of a 2000 square feet apartment in a 10-story building (4 per storey) is a fraction of a detached house and the land cost/use is massively less. Stick a pool and gym on top and even families would be queuing up to live in them.

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  • @ 10, str 2007 agreed just the small problem of finding a builder to produce this at a reasonable price for a family (Average income) to afford this. But there’s hope for the future yet!

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  • happy: When I built a house, I put together an Excel spreadsheet of every cost right down to the last nail. I plugged in the standard labour rates charged by each of the UK trades (there is a trade bible for this). The build costs were about 130% more than my eventual costs. My solution was to ban anyone who could speak English from the site.

    It is my experience that the average British tradesman is more of a thief than any banker will ever be. Even when they are not thieving they are hobbled by bone idleness and a refusal to embrace MMC (modern methods of construction)

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  • @ Flash, without a doubt, i use to be in construction myself and have seen it first hand, building your own was / is a good bet, financial control, quality control etc.. On the thieving point most good trades men in reasonably good times should earn a good income, but there seems to be a virus of extortion & greed that spreads down the line all the way from the top, to the bottom.. Which turns into a catch 22 everyone is ripping everyone else off.. Which is quite amusing if you think about it..

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  • And from the BBC Surveyors article above :-

    “Jeremy Leaf, a RICS spokesman, said: Although it is clear that house prices are now rising, it continues to be the lack of supply that is underpinning the recovery in most parts of the country”.

    See, even RICS admit lack of supply supports prices.

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  • Flashman

    Yes that sounds like a better spec for an apartment.
    The other thing most lack is secure under ground parking and also a lock up the size of a single garage for all those things that aren’t in use everyday like bikes, fishing tackle, ski equipment, motorbikes etc etc. In fact make that the size of a double garage. With no garden to look after they’ll be all the more time for toys 😉
    I must admit though the other thing they need is a bit of private outside space. Then they’d be just fine.

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  • Beyond a doubt we need new homes – there are currently millions who are stuck living with mum and dad, sharing with others when they would rather not, living in overcrowded situations, sofa surfing or hidden in barns in the countryside. And this number is growing daily due to the ever declining average household size putting more pressure on the stock.

    Bringing a greater number of empty properties back into use is only a small part of the solution, providing less than 10% of the homes needed.

    What the Government needs to do is use carrot and stick on smaller households who are under-occupying 3, 4 and 5 bedroom homes, enouraging/forcing them to move to 2-bed homes. Then new build policy should be focussed on providing high quality 2-bed units which use less land than big family homes with big gardens, thus preserving more of the countryside for food growing and nature.

    At the moment the younger generation loose out on all fronts. Under-occupying Nimbys are blocking all new development because they refuse to recognise the need for new homes. Thats why a (tax) system that forces them to downsize is fully justified imo.

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  • Flash, not to mention the jet ski, classic car, microlight,personal gym & trainer, definitely need more room..lol

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  • Re all the comments above, I have a three-pronged strategy:

    1. Land Value Tax (or Property Value Tax) to encourage right-sizing and keep prices low and stable, to replace as many other taxes as possible (I am a small government low-taxer)

    2. Liberalise planning laws. Whether that’s upwards in cities or outwards in towns is up to “the markets”. And of course we can have zoning to preserve character of chocolate box villages – and property owners in such areas will pay for this benefit via higher LVT.

    3. Build more state-owned housing for rent (to be managed privately for commission) and keep building it until market rents come down to a bare level where they cover interest and maintenance costs.

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  • The Tories are pledged to get rid of the ludicrous planning bureaucracy that was largely the work of Prescott. They have therefore advised their councillors to be minimalist when dealing with bodies that are to be abolished, to avoid wasting resources.

    A perfectly responsible and sensible thing to do, but of course it has been spun by their political enemies to suggest that they are anti development.

    Grant Shapps is the shadow housing minister, and he seems very pro development. But it is clearly policy to get rid of the centralised and unaccountable planning system, and incentivise local communities instead.

    – I like what he’s saying..

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