Building a Housing Crisis
The media and its suppliers of comment and ‘news’ move like a caravan from one generalised “crisis” to another, invariably concluding that the government should “do” something.
One of the current “crises” is housing. To a degree, housing has always been in the news, right back to the blitz days of 1941-44. Just now we are experiencing a crescendo. A BBC news item (2nd August) was followed by an obviously synchronised article in the Daily Telegraph by something called the Home Owners’ Alliance.
The article is full of disconnected generalities – “average rent in England and Wales is £792 per month”; “home ownership has fallen to its lowest level in 30 years” by which is probably meant the percentage of all households which are owner occupied is the lowest since 1986. But what about the actual numbers of owned households? Why in a period when marriage rates have dropped by 30% over the same 30 year period (from 394,000 per year to around 270,000 per year) and people, particularly young people, move round much more, should the proportion of owner occupation with its long-term implications, not go down?
Housing “Crisis” essentially a London Crisis
With over 30% of its resident population made up of foreign born people who are the main reason for London’s 20% population increase in the last 30 years, it would be amazing if London didn’t have a housing crisis, augmented by a relatively small number of well-off people (e.g. students) from rich families in the Middle East and East Asia, who have a big effect on rents at the top end of the market in flats.
Everything done to make London more attractive to young people from elsewhere in Britain and from abroad, will intensify the housing crisis and make it less possible for key workers to live reasonably near their places of work.
Rural Areas need mainly Small Developments of 1-20 houses for two categories of people
The two categories are:
- Starter homes
- Bungalows for elderly folk.
Developments of less than 20 dwellings are very unattractive to builders and planners alike. Builders especially like to bring in the heavy equipment to prepare for a hundred or more houses on green-field sites. They don’t like the fiddly jobs of in-fill or brown-field sites. The planners exist to plan – big projects especially. So we have a constant shying away from the two categories above, which would actually be welcomed by many villages.
The White Paper today (7th February 2017) seems to ask local council plans to spell out “realistic” numbers and types of dwellings actually needed. This is what the Neighbourhood Planning Groups were set up to define. They don’t however come up with the numbers and types which the developers and planners like.