Friday, July 23, 2010

With great power comes great responsibility

Villages could get housing development powers

The government plans to enable villages in England to build homes without seeking council planning permission. The Right to Build initiative aims to provide small numbers of affordable homes in rural areas where high home prices are driving people away. It is part of David Cameron's "big society" idea of allowing more decisions to be made locally. But the Campaign to Protect Rural England says building development should be democratically accountable. BBC UK affairs correspondent Tom Symonds says: "The government believes there are many rural communities eager to see more houses built to stop the countryside, as ministers put it, becoming a museum." Housing minister Grant Shapps envisages small developments of fewer than 20 homes.

Posted by drewster @ 09:45 AM (2019 views)
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8 thoughts on “With great power comes great responsibility

  • One of the impediments to building affordable (especially social rented) homes in villages is that allocation rules insist that new tenants are drawn from the Housing Register. Those that get priority are invariably not from the small village in question and are often people with all sorts of problems. The young well behaved people from the village are way down the bottom of the list and so dont get a look in. The system is biased towards basket cases. So the allocations system needs to be overhauled along with the planning consents system.

    RC: “Artillery MR”

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  • A step in the right direction, but as Greenmind says, the government needs to move away from the two tier ‘affordable’ and ‘non-affordable’ model..

    I think communities will need some additional incentives to sign up to this.

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  • the number cruncher says:

    greenmind – sounds very socially divisive. are you trying to say. “Don’t want any plebs in my village”?

    Surely social housing should be allocated on need and not any perception of local inbreeding.

    Many villages (including a one I used to live in) had arms houses, operated by a parish council or local committee of some description. And they allocated houses to local people in distress. Many seamed to be given to local divorces, even when they had bags of cash.

    This sounds like a great Tory idea, appealing to the paternalistic streak and allowing a committee of worthy people to bestow gifts upon the ‘deserving poor’.

    Still anything to get some more houses built. But:

    1. I heard the minister say it would need 80 to 90% agreement – fat chance
    2. where is the money coming from?
    3. who is going to receive the planning gain?

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  • number cruncher,

    It’s alms houses – not the ones with guns in.. 🙂

    Yes, 80-90% approval is near impossible, but he did say it hadn’t been finalised yet – 66% of those voting, or 50% of all electors; would be more sensible.

    As to money and planning gain, the best way to get communities to sign up is to allow them to negotiate freely, but openly; so that they get a good deal for their community, either as cash to reduce council tax, new amenities and facilities, cheap new homes, or a bit of all three.

    The important thing is transparency – they must not be allowed to argue that any part of the negotiations are confidential, or restrict access to documents.

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  • Number cruncher you raise relevant issues. Tory style paternalism doesnt appeal to me either, and I certainly dont favour single mum bashing. But nor does the current (Labour built) system provide satisfactory outcomes. If there are 4,000 people on the waiting list and only a few hundred new tenancies each year then you end up with those with the crappyest story to tell getting homes allocated and the rest going empty handed. This gives social housing gets a bad name and allienates ordinary people who are struggling on low wages. Also, anyone with a bit of spare land in a village isnt going to offer it for social housing if this is the deal (some land owners are philanthropicly motivated and arent only after top dollar).

    I would favour a big lottery as an allocations policy, with all those on low incomes in with an equal chance. This would ensure you get a mixture of people rather than create sink estates.

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  • Greenmind,

    The real solution is for the nation to build itself away from a slight under-supply to a slight over-supply of housing, so people can choose between good housing or cheap housing, and those that no-one wants to live in at all can be demolished and re-developed without issue.

    We need to get back to a world where new houses cost more than second hand ones, and where families can afford family houses..

    And the amount of extra land needed is peanuts – one acre in 400, or less than a quarter of the land currently owned by the MOD

    We have a workforce that needs employment, and a job to be done..

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  • the number cruncher says:

    Greenmind and UT – I agree with much of what you say. The alienation of low income working families is horrible. Only destitute people get housed while those that work get nothing – its a very sick system. I was chatting to a CEO of a social Housing Agency last week who was so depressed about the predicament of low paid people in his neck of the woods and how they where paying 50% plus of their income on rent or mortgages and how his organisation could not help them.

    He also told me that real land values have collapsed in his neck of the woods (Dover and Folkstone) and private developers are not buying at them moment.

    If only we had a system that could capture the economic rent of the land to fund house building and job creation, and penalise those that hoard development land? Oh we do – that would be Land Value Tax

    Great I will phone up Dave and tell him about it – I am sure this is just the policy the Conservatives are looking for…

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  • Can we not just have a department of common sense to run everything?

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