I have previously written about our utterly dysfunctional housing market here and here. Basically we have disproportionate power in the hands of a relatively small coterie of anti planning fascist NIMBYs, led by the CPRE. And politicians of all parties pay lip service to fixing the problem but then do nothing to actually allow the houses that we need to be built. Until the 1947 and 1990 Town and Country Planning Acts are repealed we will get nowhere. They are charters to deny nice homes to tens of millions of people.
We need to build at least half a million new homes a year for several years just to build our housing stock to where it should be. There are just two ways to do this:
- New Towns. New Villages. Eco friendly with proper homes with gardens. We have, as a nation a long history of doing this. From the Garden Cities such as Letchworth before WW1 and Welwyn just after to the many post WW2 New Towns. These include Milton Keynes, Runcorn, Stevenage, Telford, Redditch, Cwmbran, Peterlee, Hatfield, Glenrothes. Cumbernauld and many more. Each is built from scratch with all the infrastructure it needs. Schools, hospitals, transportation. We have done this successfully before and we can do it again.
- Radial expansion, currently artificially prevented by the ridiculous “green belt” which denies us the natural way that communities have evolved for thousands of years. Green belts cover one and a half times the area of Britain than that covered by towns and cities. Between the mid 1500s and 1700 Birmingham expanded fifteen fold, from the third largest town in Warwickshire to the fifth largest in Britain. From 1890 to the 1920s the Northern Line in London went out into the countryside and immense residential building followed. British cities can do this again with radial commuter train lines running into countryside, with very relaxed planning permission.
It is worth repeating here a very important fact. Britain is very, very undeveloped. Power up Google Earth and fly round Great Britain a bit and you will find that, amazingly, very little land is used for housing to accommodate the human beings who live and work here. The best measure is from the UK National Ecosystem Assessment (UK NEA), they calculated that 6.8% of the UK’s land area is now classified as urban, 10.6% in England, 1.9% in Scotland, 3.6% in N. Ireland and 4.1% in Wales. But in England 78.6% of this urban area is designated as natural rather than built so the percentage of England’s landscape which is actually given over to homes is a ridiculously small 2.27%.
The anti planning fascist NIMBYs are pure evil. They are happy in their nice homes with their pleasant life styles. But they want to deny this to many millions of other people. This is disgusting and it is amoral. They have two idiotic and inadequate solutions to our housing problems.
- In-fill. Building in gardens and little patches of land. To me this should be illegal. It is very expensive compared with building whole large areas of housing, it adds strain to all the existing infrastructure, it increases the population density which reduces everyone’s quality of life and it de-greens urban areas, making them into concrete jungles.
- Brownfield development. Basically knock a factory down and build houses instead. This has many of the disadvantages of in fill with the added one that this land will usually be in an area where people don’t really want to live. You don’t see the CPRE NIMBYs rushing to live in brownfield homes.
It doesn’t take a genius to realise that in-fill and brownfield will never, ever provide even a fraction of the homes we need, even at sky high population densities. Never mind in pleasant, affordable homes with large rooms and decent sized gardens. The NIMBYs are just using these as a token offering, to fob us off.
Another NIMBY tactic is localism, so a hundred metres of hedge become more important than homes for millions of people. They deliberately obfuscate the big picture. CPRE promote this a lot because it is a very effective tactic to prevent development. They don’t want other people living in nice homes. This is why planning has to be forced through by central government. Which it is utterly failing to do.
Look at the following diagram and you will be shocked. Not only do we live in amongst the most expensive new homes on the planet, we live in amongst the smallest. Rabbit hutches. This is what the NIMBYs have forced on us. An ever increasing number of people squeezed into a limited area means an ever increasing population density and an ever reducing quality of life. All because the nasty, amoral NIMBYs prevent planning permission:
We are rapidly reaching the state where the dearth of housing and its poor quality makes decent life in Britain impossible to sustain. People are already leaving in large numbers and you can see why. And the people who leave tend to be our best, our brightest, well educated highest earners. Because their talents are mobile they can easily relocate to a far higher quality of life. The damage that the NIMBYs are doing to our economy is horrendous. I would take the NIMBYs and CPRE outside and shoot them in front of their children.
The results of NIMBYism are utterly disgusting More of Surrey is now under golf courses – about 2.56 percent – than has houses on it. How can we, as a society, tolerate the immorality of this? And how can the people responsible face themselves in a mirror? They have no moral compass and have lost their status as decent human beings.
And remember that a nice detached family home with a big garden costs only about £100,000 to build when a whole big development is done at the same time. If you paid more than this for your home then blame the NIMBYs.
The only answer is a huge liberalisation of planning permission. The planning authorities around Britain are controlled by NIMBYs so the only way is to force it upon them. Central government must create many new towns and planning permission for greenbelt and farm land should be close to automatic. It really is the only way. Planning authorities that refuse to liberalise must be taken over by central government. The vast majority of our population are at war with the disgusting NIMBYs and we must win.