Coffee House

Tensions over housebuilding plans

6 September 2012

This morning’s big housebuilding announcement was aimed at unblocking obstacles in the planning system to get development of new homes and extensions going. But it hasn’t unblocked tensions within the government. The main controversy is over whether to relax the quotas for affordable housing within each new development, and The Times reports that Nick Clegg and Eric Pickles were at loggerheads with George Osborne over the idea.

This morning, Downing Street announced that developers can bypass a council’s affordable housing requirements if they feel they make a site commercially unviable. The claim is that this will release 75,000 new homes currently stuck behind this barrier. There are various measures to mitigate the drop in the number of affordable homes delivered through this route, including guaranteeing housing association debt, and £300 million to build 15,000 affordable homes and to bring 5,000 empty homes back into use. When he appeared on the Today programme, Clegg insisted that ‘the net effect of all these proposals, let me be very clear, is more, not less, affordable homes’.

Clegg will also be mindful that building more homes of any tenure is better than not building any new homes at all. The change that could cause the biggest split, though, is any move towards allowing councils to build on the green belt. George Osborne said at the weekend that he wanted councils to use existing rules to mimic Cambridge by swapping bits of land here and there, but any further details on green belt development have not yet been released today. There will be a month-long consultation on the new measures announced today: that consultation paper could well contain the measures that irk many more MPs than just Clegg and Pickles.

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Show comments
  • Nicholas

    Look at those houses. If the guy with his back to us lay down he would almost reach from the front door to the dividing wall and he is probably not that tall. I can’t see much difference from the two up two down terraced houses of the Victorian era apart from the fact they were probably built more substantially and perhaps even slightly bigger. Is this progress?

  • Wessex Man

    Only this current administration could believe that householders a pile of dosh hidden in the attic to pay for a nice big extension, sad.

  • Wessex Man

    Only this current administration could believe that householders a pile of dosh hidden in the attic to pay for a nice big extension, sad.

  • Acacia Avenue

    Er, so we extend our houses and then they mansion tax them?
    What was the Mansion Tax rate, £1m then £2m? It will take the smallest pair of Balls to reverse this from £2, to £1m, 500k, 250k… just like Labour milked Stamp Duty.
    To get the market moving what is needed is a three year stamp duty free period to allow those over-stretched people to sell before the inevitable interest rate rises destroys them. At the moment people are extending houses up, down and out as it is cheaper then moving.

  • Coffeehousewall

    Isabel, you seem not to have noted the fact that is often reported here by commentators that the construction industry is sitting on more land than they can possibly use, all with planning permission. There is no problem with planning. It is just not in their interests to build at the moment.

    Why is building more homes good? How is that a statement which can be made without any sort of qualification? The only reason we need more homes is because of immigration. The indigenous British population growth rate is low. Why not address that as a journalist? Here is the question again…

    Why do we need to build more houses?

    Simply reporting on Westminister is playing a game. It is not real. It is of no value. Ask some searching questions and find the answers.

  • TomTom

    The main issue is to unblock the donations to the ruling clique – the Conservative Property Forum must be able to solicit more money now from its property developer sponsors. This island is little better than Jersey for corruption and has all the usual signs of an isolated elite burdening the populace with toxic waste so it can continue to live a Deripaska Lifestyle

    • dalai guevara

      The issue you describe would immediately go away if party funding rules were changed to a system, in which each political party received funding according to their vote count.

      The US have proven, how otherwise $6bn+ campaigns are fought (!) – and we all know how the elected favours his sponsors in return. This Anglo-American system is nothing short of bribery – but all we love to do is blame the Russians et al for their lack of honesty.

  • dalai guevara

    Let’s get this straight: unlike Gordon made us believe, there are economic boom and bust cycles, right?

    In a boom phase, large numbers of prosperous investors – or those who see their banks literally throwing money at them – support the rise in standards, overall development and an increase in house price. That was the easy part, we’ve witnessed how that works since 1995.

    In a bust phase, the opposite is required to balance things out: i.e. we need to see the development of m o r e affordable homes, possibly council housing and the like to offset the hardship felt at the lower end of society and to ensure socio-economic justice in hard times.

    So again – in a boom, the ‘moneyed-up’ install the double glazing; in a bust, the poor have theirs done. Keeps the glazing industry busy throughout, take the edge off the boom and bust amplitude.

    Any takers of this straight forward strategy?

    • TomTom

      Yes, what did happen to the Parker Morris Standards ?

      • ButcombeMan

        Boris seems to be the only important politician talking about them

  • In2minds

    A property bubble was bound to cause tension!

  • Miner

    Hands up if you are proud to be a Lib Dem.

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