Home Politics The Coming Generation Of Slums From Planning Reform

The Coming Generation Of Slums From Planning Reform



It is, obviously, possible that we’re going to gain a new set of slums from this tearing up of the planning system. After all, we really did have slums before we had a planning system so it’s obviously possible for them to return without one.

That’s also not quite how it works of course but we’ll get to that:

England’s planning changes will create ‘generation of slums’
RIBA and housing experts warn of erosion of building laws with fast-track proposals

OK, we’ve got to agree that it is possible at least:

The biggest shake-up of planning for decades has caused fury that moves to fast-track the construction of “beautiful” homes across England will “dilute” democratic oversight, choke off affordable housing and lead to the creation of “slum” dwellings.
Quite how being able to buil;d more houses more quickly will make housing less affordable is difficult. But of course they’re using their own, made up, definition of “affordable”. They mean cheap rentals for the proles. Rentals that the proles aren’t allowed to escape either.

While the proposed changes are likely to appeal to developers, they prompted stinging criticism from housing charities, planning officers and architects who warned of a new generation of fast and substandard housing.

See who is complaining? The housing charities get to allocate – and often enough live in themselves- those affordable houses. The planning officers all get fired if there is no planning system. And if the whole thing is easy then why bother employing an architect to shepherd it through the system?

That is we’re in Upton Sinclair territory here and exactly the people screaming shows us how well it will work.

“While they might help to ‘get Britain building’ – paired with the extension of permitted development rights last week – there’s every chance they could also lead to the development of the next generation of slum housing,” said RIBA president Alan Jones.

Which does bring us to that problem of slum housing, doesn’t it? The thing is the pre-planning system slums were always in the old buildings. The stuff from the previous generation or three that was either now run down or superseded by the desires of a now richer society. That pre-planning system society never did build new slums. We had to wait for RIBA to be designing places before we had that joy – Ronan Point etc, instant slums in the sky. Taking the architects out of this ha a lot to recommend it.

We’ve also got good evidence of what a rich society, in the absence of planning, does build. All those faux Tudor semis and detacheds in those ribbon developments across the south east. The things that people happily pay a million to live in today. Housing people want to live in built where they want to live. Such a shocker that perhaps we should actually give it a try? You know, despite the architects, housing charities and other grifters crying about it?



  1. Builders don’t make slums – tenants do. [Owner-occupiers can do so but it’s nearer 1 in a million than 0.1%]. I can still remember (from about 50 years ago) knocking on some doors in a nearly-new (less than 18 months old) council block and finding a slum when one of the doors opened (twice in the same block). The council had “slum-cleared” some old, decidedly inferior, houses and rehoused the tenants but a couple of them had turned the new flats into instant slums.
    Elsewhere in the town most of the housewives in Victorian terraces built for factory workers still scrubbed their front step and kept their houses spotless.

  2. John +1. A few days ago I was making a delivery to a very nice Barratt-type estate, I turned a corner to the one house I was delivering to and it was built identically to all the others, but was the only one with a stipped-down car on the drive, kitchen cupboards mouldering in the garden, bags of “stuff” heaped up in the porch.

  3. I fully agree on the benefits of the proposed (German?) planning system but the evidence is that quality standards are required.

    * https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/902220/Research_report_quality_PDR_homes.pdf

    TLDR; Given the chance developers will build shoeboxes without windows that are bad to live in and will decline in value in future. The developers don’t care because this risk is passed to the purchaser. The market is broken at the moment therefore it IMHO it is reasonable that quality standards are imposed to protect the purchaser.


    • Similar to the people who were “duped” into buying new houses with leaseholds – if you can’t be arsed to make any effort to understand the consequences of your actions, should the rest of us socialise your stupidity? Being generous, even if stupid, surely you can contract someone (like a solicitor, your own surveyor etc) to point this stuff out to you.

  4. As far as I know there is no proposal to alter building regs. So anything built should be to the same structural standard as today.
    Developers will only build windowless shoeboxes if they can sell them. At present there are people do desperate for housing that they will accept them, but give them an alternative and shoeboxes will be abandoned and redeveloped to something better.

  5. I visited Canada recently and was struck by the fact that so much of the available building land was sold off in single lots. The houses were mostly the sheetrock and sidings kind, with a concrete cellar – much nicer, roomier and cheaper than the rubbish thrown up by developers here.

  6. The shoe boxes are a function of two things:
    a) Planners require a density of x housing units per hectare which means build blocks of flats or shoeboxes.
    b) it cost the developer x million to buy land, bribe planning system ( sorry I meant comply with planning requirements) and then erect houses, so that means he has a lot of money to get back to break even let alone profit. Lot easier to do that with 20 units than 4.
    Bearing in mind its 4 years from begining to end.


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expunct (ɪkˈspʌŋkt)
VERB (transitive)
1. to delete or erase; blot out; obliterate
2. to wipe out or destroy

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