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September 2014 M T W T F S S « Aug 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30
- Mawrrun50 on What a Difference a Year Makes – Housing, Planning and Party Conferences
- Lindsey Simpson on Pickles Referred to Advertising Standards Authority?
- David Marlow on Pickles Referred to Advertising Standards Authority?
- Storm Cunningham on The Value of Citizen Led Regeneration
- Adam Roake on The Value of Citizen Led Regeneration
The free market cheer leaders for more housing are starting, rightly, to become more focussed in demanding more housing, not everywhere, but in the economically growing places like Bristol, Oxford, Cambridge, London (and recognising that the problems, or rather the solutions, are different in other parts of the country where environmentally sustainable brownfield development capacity is substantially more obvious).
I took part in a proper debate, on green field development, organised by the real estate related professions in Leeds last week. I’m not an experienced debater and came away mainly with the realisation that it isn’t really surprising that life long politicians who do this stuff from school age become flexible with the truth. It is great practice for telling people what you think they want to hear in order to win votes rather than exposing truth by forensic interrogation.
I came across a number of instances this week of Government’s inability to make its policies happen on the ground.
In the first example I did a quick straw poll of a large room full of local authority planners. I asked how many of them had read the Government’s guidance on collecting evidence for strategic housing market assessments in relation to custom build as they are required to do by the NPPF.
Not a single hand went up.
One of the joys of holidays is catching up on those books that get squeezed out by working weeks. The Neighbourhood Project by David Sloan Wilson was Easter’s catch up. Despite my background as an ecologist with an interest in evolution this book ultimately failed to deliver on its appealing title and its author’s evolutionary credentials.
The book is founded on the author’s belief that pretty much everything in the world, including cities, can be explained, and managed, by the principles of evolution. There is much in this. This is not evolution as most of us understand it as genes that change and get selected over generations. It is evolution of culture and systems.
It is finally becoming recognised more widely now by policymakers that the volume housebuilder model of sell one/build one holds back housing delivery particularly on large sites. The lack of delivery is much more about the pace at which homes are developed on large sites with planning permission than the availability of planning permissions.
The annual shared ownership exhibition in London last weekend was completely rammed as the number of people priced out of the London housing bubble is growing quickly due to annual house price rises of 30% in some boroughs.
These poor people were forced to fill out individual paper and digital forms time after time as they struggled to negotiate the crowds of often ill-informed and ill equipped shared ownership sales agents representing each of the providers.
I heard a great political speech from former housing minister Mark Prisk last week. As he said ‘Being out of government allows you to speak rather more coherently’.
Among many acute observations he made the point, made here before, that the political enthusiasm for new towns and garden cities would do nothing for the current housing crisis given the time they would take to be delivered.
There is an orgy of housing policy going on at the moment. Stimulated by the Lyons housing policy review every organisation with any connection to this policy area is convening meetings, writing papers and generally overdosing in a thought fest around how to deliver more housing more quickly. The ones that I’ve seen this week have been NaSBA, Design Council and CPRE.