It’s entirely possible to argue that England shouldn’t be concreted over – wrong, but possible. It’s equally possible to argue that there are arguments in favour of reducing building in order to maintain the prices of current buildings. You’d also be wrong but it’s an argument that can be made.
But how damn confused do you have to be to argue that the Tories – Boris basically – both wants lots and lots and lots of concreting over of England but also is striving mightily to reduce supply and thus maintain prices? And yet that’s where Phillip Inman does find himself.
Property developers were never far away from City Hall and, to Londoners, it would seem construction projects were approved almost daily. The city is a sea of towers, most of them foreign owned and built without any requirement for affordable homes to be included.
So Boris hugely increased the supply of buildings in London. OK, compared to what prices would have been without the development prices are therefore lower. That’s how an increase in supply works.
To say that Britain is a giant property whirligig spun for the benefit of a closed group of Conservative party supporters is possibly overstating the makeup of the economy and its dependence on real-estate values.
But when so many agencies of the state have found their main job is to keep the housing market spinning, surely it is not such an exaggeration.
The Bank of England says it keeps interest rates at near zero to support small- and medium-sized businesses and the broader economy. But in truth it worries more about a fall in property prices, such is the power of a collapsing housing market to destroy consumer confidence and the balance sheets of high street mortgage lenders.
Huge numbers of baby boomers now own their homes outright and see the value of their property as a barometer of their lifetime achievement as much as a vehicle for inheritance.
Many of them like the view from their homes and refuse to sanction planning applications near where they live. Once called Nimbys – “not in my back yard” – for their disapproval of development in general, they are now the main target of this Tory obsession with property.
A new planning law will strip them of their right to question planning applications once areas are targeted for expansion.
Older Nimbys are already casting themselves as environmentalists in this new conflict. And good luck to them. The green agenda is a legitimate way to fight back.
Therefore everyone should be stopping development in order to maintain those high property prices?
Umm, what? We’ve the government that has done the most, in recent decades, to try to deregulate planning and thus increase supply – perhaps not all that well and with a certain lack of ambition but still – and this is all about trying to maintain prices? And also that when they try to reduce prices by increasing permissions then everyone else should oppose them in order to make housing more affordable?
Jeez, it’s almost as if he shares a newspaper with Polly, isn’t it?