Coffee House

Bold Boles’ planning push is a key example of ‘spreading privilege’

28 November 2012

Nick Boles has just put in a fierce performance on Newsnight over his controversial remarks on planning. Amusingly, the minister’s remarks aren’t a million miles away from Nick Clegg’s slightly less well-reported speech on housing last week, but Boles has a knack of going where other ministers fear to tread when he speaks about difficult issues.

He was extremely impressive on why making development a priority does not mean England is going to turn into an enormous concrete jungle, saying:

‘Under 10% of Britain, currently, 10% of England, is covered by urban development in any way. A very small amount. Over 85%, 88%, would still be rural, undeveloped countryside, and we would have completely solved our housing need for the next 20 years.

‘My view is simply this, which is that I’d prefer to live in a country, where families were able to get a property. Where 85-88% of it was developed… than the one we currently live in where okay, 91% is undeveloped, but there are people in their 40s, both working, who can’t afford to get a place.’


What Boles is doing, as well as showing off what splendidly thick skin he must have to take on the anti-development lobby, is demonstrating very aptly David Cameron’s conference commitment to ‘spread privilege’. There can be few better examples of doing this than enabling young people to get on the housing ladder, rather than allowing housing need to grow because of the objections of those who are already privileged and are worried about the impact of a new development on their view.

He is delivering a speech to the Town and Country Planning Association tomorrow which will make many more blunt observations, arguing that some of the antipathy towards new development stems from the reasonable observation that many new homes are ‘pig ugly’. In his interventions over the past few days, Boles is tackling those opposed to new development from two sides. He is appealing to their desire for their own children and the young people in their own communities to be able to afford a home, while also acknowledging their fears about the aesthetic impact of development.

Perhaps to move from the dismal 129,790 house starts in England in 2011/12 to the 250,000 a year economists believe are needed, David Cameron could set Boles a challenge similar to Winston Churchill’s deal with Harold Macmillan when he became housing minister in 1954 to meet a target of 300,000 new homes per year. Churchill told Macmillan:

‘It is a gamble – it will make or mar your political career, but every humble home will bless your name if you succeed.’

The minister did succeed: a year ahead of schedule, in fact, and his subsequent rise through the ranks to become Chancellor and finally Prime Minister shows he enjoyed the spoils of success. The planning portfolio more than perhaps any other in this government needs someone who is bold, thick-skinned, and absolutely driven. We have been building far too few homes in this country for years, and if Bold Boles is able to turn that around, then he deserves a big reward.

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  • Maria

    I was on Newsnight with Nick Boles. Very difficult to get out to the public that we are not against development but that it needs to be in consultation with the community, in the right place, in keeping with its surroundings and more importantly affordable. £300,000 is certainly not affordable and if you say affordable it should be affordable to all not just the people who can afford it. Our children have to leave their communities because they cannot afford property there. The developers do not want to build affordable houses on the greenbelt, green fields or farm land. This is prime location for them to achieve maximum profits and then they leave the rest of the country to pick up the pieces when everything goes wrong, like when they get flooded. Building on flood plain is not sustainable development. Maybe we should carry on and end up like Ireland, ghost towns all over, the country in debt and now knocking the new builds down but they can never recover that land for the future. Houses are not selling because people cannot get mortgages, so wonder who is going to buy all these houses when there are already thousands empty. They are small, can’t even fit a single bed in what are described as bedrooms, they are nothing more than “plastic barbie doll houses” but I bet the developers and ministers don’t live in them. They are now even building 3 storey town houses with yards, they should try living in them themselves. Make the houses affordable and people would buy them. Stop knocking down good quality houses that people want and could be brought back into use. The whole thing is driven by profits and the New Homes Bonus Scheme. We will all be sorry in years to come, when there is nothing left for the future generations, but don’t worry we will all be dead and it will be the chidren of the future left to pick up the pieces, because we have not got the sense to do so now. Wonder if the Open Door Policy has anything to do with the state we are in regarding building?

  • eeore

    Given Nick Boles recent attendance at the Bilderberg group, it is perhaps informative to see what Danial Estulin’s sources say was being discussed in 2006 meeting

  • Madame Merle

    While there doesn’t seem to be any prospect of a change in immigration policy the country will need to build 250,000 homes every year, just to accommodate those coming into the UK.

    Mr. Boles should perhaps be planning to pave-over the entire country.

    Where did this twerp come from? He seems like another useful idiot from the Jeremy Hunt clone factory.

    Boles can bole off as soon as he likes.

  • Coffeehousewall

    How many houses are being used by immigrants, and how many of the planned houses will be used by immigrants?

    I would like to live in a country where English people can find an affordable home for their families and where immigration is strictly managed so that it does not create housing problems, and a housing price bubble.

    • Rahul Kamath

      I’d suggest emigrating to the Falklands though I hear they so have some non-English immigrants there too.

  • andagain

    I wonder how many people there are who think that unemployed people in the North ought to move to find work, and that no houses ought to be built in the South for them to move into.

    • Rahul Kamath

      Lolz – the inherent contradictions in the positions taken by our fellow commentators!

  • MrCreosote

    Nick Boles is merely trying to free off the building land market, for too long dominated by the volume housebuilder cartels, and allow SME builders back into the land market. This is both welcome and long overdue. It will result in better quality housing, in places where people actually want to live.

  • john swindon

    The problem is both supply and price. we have the ludicrous situation that if you buy to let you can offset interest against tax but if you buy to live in you can’t. this reduces supply of houses for sale and increase demand subsidised by the tax man. Why not only give tax relief on purchases of new houses let to first time house owners

  • TomTom

    Funny how National Parks are included in land available for development…….this guy is bonkers. We are told the nation is short of water, and he wants to increase ENERGY consumption through building and importing more people from low-energy consumption regions to increase it here. These guys are truly hilarious

    • Powder

      In his Newsnight interview he clearly excluded National Parks.

      We are not short of water, we are short of ways to store it. There was a solution for SE England: a super-reservoir in Oxfordshire. But NIMBY scum did for that idea because it lost them some dog-walking routes.

      You are truly hilarious. Who built your house? Was it built on some of that concreted-over brownfield land created by God on, what was it, the second day?

  • Kevin

    England does not just need more affordable housing – it needs a rival to London.

    As things currently stand, outsiders still seem to be under the impression that the capital is where one goes to make money, little realising that the people really coining it in are those who sell or rent them or charge them for the property or transport they need to be able to work there.

    People have to become unpredictable in their economic choices, and if England does not provide an alternative job market, others will be found overseas.

  • Colonel Mustard

    In last week’s Spectator magazine was an illustration (from a book review) of the Greenwich Borough housing scheme of 1922. What a contrast to the greed-inspired, computer plotted, maximum number of houses in the minimum amount of space, slums of tomorrow that are being developed today. There is more green space, gardens and landscaping than houses in the 1922 scheme but the most striking overall impression is of dignity and space for the human beings who would occupy it.

    Of course like most members of this government, Mr Boles speaks of housing as one issue in isolation without understanding the holistic nature of infrastructure and ignoring related issues like food production, power supply, logistics, transport, foreign investment ownership of property driving up London (and other) house prices and of course a rapidly growing population from the rate of immigration. Britain is still an attractive destination for all sorts of reasons but if governments do not seek to conserve what makes it so and apply some joined up thinking the infrastructure is going to fail, the attraction and money will end and they will be left with all the problems and a growing, demanding, very unhappy sectarian population.

    • andagain

      What a contrast to the greed-inspired, computer plotted, maximum number
      of houses in the minimum amount of space, slums of tomorrow that are
      being developed today.

      The developers of 1922 were just as greed-inspired as those of today. All that has changed is the planning regulations.

      Perhaps I should be very conservative, and insist on returning to the regulations of 1922.

      • Colonel Mustard

        Ah, once again a commentator steps in to quote a comment and use it as a jumping board for his own sniping. The contrast pointed out is valid and empirical whether the developers were as greedy or not (although how you would be able to know that boggles the mind).

        And are you in a position to “insist” on returning to the regulations of 1922 or is that just hyperbole for effect?

        • andagain

          The contrast pointed out is valid and empirical whether the developers were as greedy or not

          The contrast exists. I would not deny it. I merely point out that your first paragraph was blaming the wrong people for it.

          Greedy companies get a lot of blame for changes that have more to do with self-righteous rulers.

    • Powder

      Greed of whom? The developers who built the property you live in? Or was your house built by a charity? Or the BTL parasites buying up as many properties as they can then charging to exorbitant rents to families and the young in order to line their own nests (much of which gets charged to the taxpayer as HB)?


    It has been repeatedly stated by VARIOUS sources that developers are sitting on SEVERAL HUNDRED THOUSAND APPROVED SITES. There has been an allegation recently that this is motivated by firms GAMING against other firms. BROWNFIELD LAND can be used.

    Mike Penning (now a minister) highlighted that ? 50 % demand for housing was driven by IMMIGRATION. In UK under New Labour, according to Blair’s OWN speech-writer,the motivations were 1) promoting MULTI-CULTURALISM i.e. inviting people in from THIRD world BECAUSE THEY WERE FROM THE 3RD WORLD and 2)’RUBBING THE RIGHT’S NOSE IN DIVERSITY’ i.e. SPITING PATRIOTIC BRITISH PEOPLE.

    Furthermore, as Mr Blair VERY WELL KNEW, 1/5 ADULTS IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA ARE HIV-POSITIVE. If 300k Africans who were invited in SPLIT 50/50 adult/child,150k / 5 = 30,000 AIDS cases for the NHS to finance PLUS any INFECTIONS OF NATIVE POPULATION – one man working at caravan park on Essex coast was prosecuted for having UNPROTECTED sex with 5 women WITHOUT TELLING THEM about his HIV status.

  • Thomas Paine

    On this topic where is the response promised from the Housing Minister to people’s questions? Doesn’t he technically outrank Boles?

    Will they be putting their heads together to actually do something beyond the pathetic ‘Housing Strategy’, you know the useless bit of dog mess left by Grant Shapps before his elevation to Secretary of State for the Andrew Marr show?

  • HellforLeather

    If this guy knocked on my door, trying to sell whatever they try to sell. I’d have to refuse to buy.

    He has Cameron and Osborne written all over him — cunning message, body language etc. (I, unfortunately, helped vote that lot in at the last election).

    Never again, no matter how hard The Spectator tries to endorse them.

  • Hexhamgeezer

    As I understand the issue, Bolesy wants the offspring of indigenous folk to be able to buy nice houses near green fields thereby liberating and reducing the pressure on the urban environment making more room for the immigrants (new and old) and their children.

    Is this a cameronian/cleggist/mr bean win/win?

  • Daniel Maris

    This guy is an enemy of the people and has to be stopped.

    Yes we want to live in a country where families can afford to buy a house in which to raise a family.

    Solution? STOP MASS IMMIGRATION!!! – Stop importing 250,000 people per annum through net immigration. Soon as you do that you don’t have to build 80,000 new houses per annum.

    The soul of the nation resides in its green and pleasant parts. This guy is just an ignorant barbarian who wants to turn it over to tarmac and concrete, so as to facilitate mass immigration.

    • MirthaTidville

      Well said….Boles is just another half baked cretin trying to make a name for himself

    • RealTory

      On the contrary. This was a stunning performance from an intelligent astute politician who tells it as it is. I have become a real fan of Mr Boles – the fact that we are inundated with immigrants is one of the two biggest crimes of the post-war years (the other being Blair/Campbells war) but that toothpaste ain’t going back in the tube. We have to face reality and the fact that we are overcrowded means we need to deal with it and stop running around trying to protect the odd field or marsh.

      • Noa

        Best start encouraging the non-arrival and departure of unwanted immigrants then.
        No right to welfare and social benefits or to purchase property without 15 years residence and working contributions and liabilities capped at contributions, should sort out the housing problem.
        If you haven’t or won’t pay, why should you stay?

        • dalai guevara

          Has it occured to you that the opposite is true? As I have outlined below, we find ourselves in the position that prices have reached levels that make it unaffordable for FTBs to join the club. We have maxed out our line of credit, we have hit our national debt ceiling. The only way to retain the status quo of high house prices (some peoples’ last straw) is to bring in capital from the outside. Outside meaning immigrants. Gulps!

          • Rahul Kamath

            This is true for places like Spain and the US where there was a lot of overbuilding of homes and excess residential housing capacity. This is not true of the UK except possibly for the very top end of the London market (£2million +).

            • dalai guevara

              I do not believe that is a true assessment of the situation – look at any diverse city centre in the country, you will find some SME’s would have rented decades ago from Jewish or Iraqi owners of mill buildings, or German property funds in more upmarket city locations The thread goes through all sections of the housing market, and it is by no means limited to new builds. In fact, most of the projects I am referring to are ungrades and refurbs of our dismal housing stock. Again, by money that has come in from the outside.

              • Rahul Kamath

                Ok, but just because you have foreign landlords renting to local residents does not mean that prices will be maintained. A landlord can only charge what the market will bear.

                Ultimately what matters is the demand for commercial and residential property in the UK (to use – irrespective whether its as an owner or a renter) and the supply. It’s pretty clear that there has not been much increase in supply and there has been an increase in demand resulting in a larger portion of national income going to housing (really a wealth transfer from those not owning property to those owning property). Those who can’t afford to part with more income don’t start new households.

                I’ve excluded the high end London market from this assessment as those properties are mostly used by foreigners or are kept empty.

                • dalai guevara

                  Yes, so to summarize:

                  – dispite the claims uttered by Boles et al, there is little interest to ease the pressures on the housing market
                  – if there was that urge, we would allow more, not less external capital to flow into this ‘economy’.
                  – calls by DC to abolish all affordable housing quotas from developments emphasises that fact.
                  – continued one-sided subsidies to TfL transport (which allows prices in the city to remain high) -rather than all over of the country- emphasises that fact.
                  – ignoring the pressures of rising rents in prime locations and doing little to nothing about it emphasises that fact.

                  We are in a ‘sheds with beds’ area of political spin here. We talk about it one week, move the chap who uttered it on, only to find that planning laws are changed the next week to make the whole situation even worse. Clever stuff, but so transparent.

                • Rahul Kamath

                  I’m lost in the cobwebs of your statements.

                  1) Where do you see external capital not being allowed into housing; and why is more needed?
                  2) Who do you think ends up paying for affordable housing quotas? I define affordable as anything that is sold for less than it’s market price.
                  3) What would you do to reduce these rising rents?

                • dalai guevara

                  1) new taxes on mansions bought by foreigners
                  2) affordable housing is in a sense another way of circumventing the construction of social housing. In good times, the housing market usually takes care of itself, and social housing stocks are less required than in timesof a downturn. We have now had a five year downturn, and we have not seen any significant investment in social housing to counter the obvious increasing pressures.
                  3) there are countries on the continent (which have not indulged in housing boom/bust speculation) which have a regulated rent index. It curtails market forces which otherwise only serve the rent seeking few.

                • Rahul Kamath

                  You don’t believe in free markets while I do. We are not even speaking the same language here.

                • dalai guevara

                  There is no such thing as free markets, point out one that works well. OTOH, we see markets regulated to various degrees and some of them are working rather well (for everyone, not just a few). That is my language.

          • Noa

            Bangladeshi and Pakistani ‘students’, 2nd wives and dependents don’t bring capital, Russian billionaire oligarchs do. Unfortunately there are far more of the former than the latter.
            And a true free marketeer would encourage a drop in house pricing due to lower demand and the release of housing stock.

      • Coffeehousewall

        You are not a real Tory, or at least not a real conservative, if you think that we have to put up with massive immigration. As Noa says, stop paying benefit, insist on health insurance, and we will find the tide receding pretty rapidly.

        • RealTory

          Your are wrong Peter, I am more a tory than most posters here. Read my post again. What Blair did to this country, and what Cameron cvontinues to do has ruined this green and pleasnt land forever, however, what we tories need to do is accept the situation we are in and adapt it to the new realities. We must reclaim the Tory party and create a new Britain of low taxes, low welfare depency and of enterprise and innovation. Trying to get back to where we were is not realistic and just won’t happen.

          • Daniel Maris

            The point is that mass immigration under this government is also running at v. high levels and net immigration remains around 200,000-250,000 per annum. So we aren’t faced with a static problem – we are faced with an out-of-control problem.

      • Powder

        Quite. The only thing that would fix the problem is mass deportations in the millions. Only mentally-ill people think that will happen (or think that if it did happen our economy wouldn’t collapse). So, accepting that we are as many as we are, and even if we reduced net migration to zero from today, if you oppose further building what you are in effect saying is this:

        “F**k them. F**k them all, regardless of who they are or where they were born. F**k the immigrants, f**k the children or white indigenous people. F**k them all to protect people like me.”

    • Steerage

      We have had 100,000 Romanians arrive since that country’s accession to the EU in 2007 and can expect more than that number in 2014 when barriers to paying social security come down.

      That’s why Boles needs to build over farm land. At least cut housing benefit in the south east to the rent levels in the north to fill all the empty houses there – but that wouldn’t suit this Londoncentric administration.

      • Noa

        Oh the south wanted all those immigrants. Better you keep them down there.

        • Powder

          But where would provincial farmers and northern factories get all their slave labourers from? Who would run all those northern kebab shops and nail parlours and tanning houses? Who would do all those jobs northerners refuse to do because they’re too busy auditioning for X-Factor or preferring to claim dole and get paid to play video games and squeeze out another illegitimate kid?

          A couple of years ago Newsnight had a dozen northern unemployed on to talk about their plight. Oh the sob stories. No jobs this, no future that. No vacancies anywhere, at all. Went to the job centre every day (blah blah blah) but never anything on offer. None were brighht enough to see they were being royally set up. The presenter then showed them over 100 vacancies for every one of them present; all local jobs they could do (i.e. none needed previous experience or qualifications) and all advertised in their local job centres.

          Oh dear, was there much shuffling in seats. You know the rest: “Er, don’t want to do that……don’t like working outside……easier to live off dole……but I’d have to pay my own council tax and rent!!…..I’m too good for that……etc etc.”

          No wonder a bunch of foreigners take the jobs when the locals are too busy playing Grand Theft Auto, smoking fags and drinking White Lightning to get off their lazy asses and work for a living.

      • Hexhamgeezer

        But where would the Spec staff get their cleaners and nannies from?

        Or MPs their ‘researchers’?

        • Daniel Maris

          Or hub airports their minimum wage workers prepared to work at 3am.

    • Guest

      The 250,000 figure is for British citizens, which means they already reside here, stopping immigration completely would still not change that figure, so your point is redundant, immigration is also reducing year on year currently.

      The soul of nation resides in the heart of the people that live here, though any opinion here is entirely subjective, your assertion that it is in countryside is your opinion, I could equally assert it was in the old industrial heartlands of East London or Manchester.

      Furthermore nearly 70% of development is on brownfield sites, so how you can say there is a secret agenda to destroy the countryside is beyond me. Old and derelict homes often can’t be brought back into use for two reasons: firstly it is not economically viable and secondly that the buildings are too old and would not meet new green standards, all new builds are vastly more energy efficient, as they should be.

      I am 21 renting in South London, I will be lucky if I can afford a home before I’m 40 because people like you refuse any development, the generation that never had it so good and at every turn have stuffed my generation. CHEERS

      • TomTom

        Why do you live in South London ? There are lots of cheap houses on Tyneside so move….

        • Coffeehousewall

          TomTom, it’s because he has a right to house wherever he demands one.

      • Hexhamgeezer

        If ‘the soul of nation resides in the heart of the people that live here’ and you quote East London is an example then you, renting in South London, should consider moving.

        There is no right to own or mortgage a house by the time you are 40. When I was 21 I was homeless (including sleeping on the streets), by 42 I owned my home outright so I would advise getting out of the self pitying mindset that says others have screwed you and will keep you down.

        Stop spouting and wallowing in victimhood.

        Adapt and prosper.

        • Rahul Kamath

          You are correct that there is no ‘right’ to own or mortgage or even rent a house. I tell that to my socialist friends who support council housing, social housing and rent control (all of which I reject).

          That said, surely a desirable goal of any society is to allow people to have decent homes that are affordable at their income levels. I’m afraid that saying we can’t have the free market work in housing (by letting more houses be built on vacant land) because I like to look at a green and pleasant view is just plain NIBMYism.

          Congratulations on your own personal life successes. But I don’t think it’s desirable to impose such barriers on others.

          • Daniel Maris

            I don’t think it’s unreasonable for people who work hard to expect to be able to live in house or at least a reasonably spacious flat, given we are a country with $36,000 per annum per capita GDP.

            • Rahul Kamath

              Remarkably we agree on something though probably not the means to get there.

      • Daniel Maris

        What are you on about? The figure of 250,000 is not “for British Citizens” – it’s an in-out net figure for everyone, apart from short stay visitors coming in and leaving. It’s probably an underestimate as it doesn’t include a lot of illegal entrants.

        Mass immigration is the reason you can’t afford a home in South London, not failure to build on green belt land. Where exactly do you think are all these green fields in South London that should be built on? Richmond Park? Clapham Common? Blackheath?

        If mass immigration continues it is going seriously immiserate the lower middle classes in the South East.

    • MrCreosote

      Let’s be a bit pragmatic shall we?
      Turning off the European immigration tap will take years, so you may as well accept that 200,000 people per annum are still going to be arriving on these shores for the foreseeable. Regretably, we have to house them all, so adopting a housing policy that involves sticking our heads in the sand for another 20 years is not an option.
      Nick Boles is one of the few politicians who seem to have the will and ability to grasp this particular nettle. He is currently trying to encourage local planning authorities to face up to their obligations and produce up to date local plans which include realistic, evidence-based housing projections – so good luck with that one!
      If he is successful, we may eventually be able to look to a future when our children can afford a decent house, close to where they grew up, the average first time buyer is not entering decrepitude and the quality of new housing is vastly improved.

      • Matthew Whitehouse

        You are defeated and defeatist. You have accepted that there is nothing wrong with 200,000 people coming every year and there’s nothing to do about it. Do you really think it’s just housing. In the last ten years the amount of people the same as 2 Birminghams has arrived. They dont just need your housing, they need your hospitals, they need your school, they need your job, they need the benefits… SO, how much would it actually cost to provide these people with everything they need? YOU my friend HAVE NO IDEA!

        • MrCreosote

          There’s a difference between defeatism and realism – I do not condone the numbers arriving on our shores, and I did use the word “regretable”. However, we are where we are, and doing nothing to address the rapidly deteriorating situation is not an option, hence my call for pragmatism and some pro-active solutions….I see you are not suggesting any!

      • Daniel Maris

        Leave the EU. Put a moratorium on immigration and naturalisation for 2 years while we sort out a new immigration policy.

        • MrCreosote

          This is just a wish list – while we remain in the EU, a moratorium is illegal. Organising a referendum to leave is not something that will happen overnight (look at Scottish Independance). Your wish may (or may not) be granted within say 5 years, during which time we have another million naturalised citizens – all of whom need somewhere to live.
          We need a housing policy and an increase in build rate that reflects this reality.
          At current build rates there is a shortfall of around 140 – 150,000 per annum, add this to the additional million above and you’re looking at a very large number indeed.

      • Rahul Kamath

        You are correct. And this is roughly the position Boles took on Newsnight. He also pointed out, which the bigots here refuse to acknowledge, that at least 1/2 of new household formation is from British growth and NOT from immigration. The numbers he provided were 43% immigration, 57% British growth. So even if immigration fell to 0 (a figure even our populist and economically destructive home secretary isn’t aiming for), you’d still have to find homes for many many new British households. Boles is right, we need to open up more land for home building.

    • Matthew Whitehouse

      It’s both. New houses are needed AND there needs to be less immigration.

      • Daniel Maris

        Of course. But you fight the fire first. And the fire is mass immigration.

    • Rahul Kamath

      Is there any problem in the UK that you don’t blame on ‘mass immigration’? Just curious.

    • Powder

      “Solution? STOP MASS IMMIGRATION!!! – Stop importing 250,000 people per annum through net immigration. Soon as you do that you don’t have to build 80,000 new houses per annum.”

      Another lie regularly trotted out by NIMBYs and BANANAs. If we reduced net migration to zero from today, we’d still need to build at least two million more homes for the people living here now.

      Oh, and only 42% of new household formation is immigration (idiots like you like to say or infer it’s 100%). What of the increase in household formations created by more single-occupancy, divorce, longer lifespans, periodical increases in birth rates such as what we have now (no it’s not only brown people who breed, another frequent lie).

  • William Blakes Ghost

    Lets see how much ‘privilege’ Boles is really spreading when the price of these houses is set. Builders are already allergic to affordable housing as it is (there is no profit in it) and making housing ‘beautiful’ is going to cost even more. I maybe wrong but this all sounds like more Westminster Freakshow fantasism if you ask me.

    In anycase the biggest issue will not be the prices of the properties but when the current game of political chicken ends, time finally runs out and the Government of the day / B of E has to raise interest rates.

    This made me smile:

    David Cameron could set Boles a challenge similar to Winston Churchill’s
    deal with Harold Macmillan when he became housing minister in 1954 to
    meet a target of 300,000 new homes per year.

    Perhaps if Boles had the number of bomb flattened town and city sites that MacMillan did he might stand a better chance of hitting such targets?

    • TomTom

      Bound to happen the way Britain keeps provoking other countries with its NATO Condor Legion

  • Thomas Paine

    Lot of NIMBY nonsense in the comments here. Boles was a very rare flash of good honest insight in this woefully talentless Government. Vested interests – not least MPs on all sides of the house who have amassed large property portfolios – need to be eviscerated to solve Britain’s housing crisis.

    There are indeed people in their 40s both working who can’t buy a house, and in the south east it’s pretty much impossible for people without rich parents to get on the property ladder at all.

    Well said that man, first honest politician on Newsnight for as long as I can remember.

    • Matthew Blott

      Good points

    • TomTom

      The Conservative Party is FUNDED by the Reuben Brothers, Redrow and other Construction and Developers

      • Powder

        So? Who built your home? Not-for-profit pixies?

  • 2trueblue

    A lot of waffle on building or lack of. There is a huge amount of land that is classed as brownfield that has planning permission. Government should shorten the time that developers can hold on to planning permission without actually building on it. Abandoned housing should be brought back into use more quickly. The ‘buy to let’ market is one of the reasons why first time buyers are unable to buy in: the buy to let mortgage can be off set against tax, and is easier to obtain, whereas first time buyers have a harder time raising a loan, and the prices are kept up by the Buy to let market.

  • dalai guevara

    Can we remind ourselves why we are in this mess? House prices are unaffordably high for people starting out now. People are not buying , they have no deposits, there is no affordable finance without – and THAT is why developers are not developing. I can name ten sites in a mile radius from where I live that have been abandoned/ development halted due to…a lack of demand.

    So, what is it with this propaganda?

    • eeore

      The situation in the housing market is simply that the market is over inflated.

      Indeed it resembles nothing so much as the situation in the Confederate States prior to the Civil War. The ‘value’ of the slaves were the single largest economic asset in the country, and so much capital was tied up in what was essentially a valueless commodity, given the availability of cheap labour, that it prevented the development of industry, infrastructure and commerce.

      To extend the metaphor, this proposal is like the Fillibuster attempts to annex Cuba and Central American states in order to gain new slave stock.

      • dalai guevara

        To expand on your metaphor closer to home – it is precisely what industralists complained about in the era of Manchester Capitalism with the call for a repeal of the corn laws.

        • eeore

          Maybe, though I prefer my metaphor because the house price fetish more closely resembles the false worth of slaves – which Gogol satirised in Dead Slaves (in a different context) – because it was used to bestow undeserved virtue and social mores, in what was effectively an antique bubble.

          • dalai guevara

            Dead Souls, mate…I will stick with the corn laws as I prefer to think with my belly.

            • eeore

              Mea culpa, it was indeed Dead Souls.

      • TomTom

        Tell the Banks to take a haircut on their Mortgage Book and Credit Card Debt…….if they write off say 30% Mortgage Debt and raise fresh Equity from taxpayers house prices can comfortably decline with both sides of the balance sheet – you seem to ignore DOUBLE ENTRY BOOK-KEEPING

    • andagain

      I can name ten sites in a mile radius from where I live that have been abandoned/ development halted due to…a lack of demand.

      How can there be a lack of demand, when prices are twice what they were a decade ago?

      • TomTom

        Non sequitur……so you know the houses dalai is referring to ?

        • andagain

          I know that prices nationwide have risen, so either dalai guevara is wrong about a lack of demand for these houses, or he is wrong to extrapolate from these houses and infer that there is a nationwide lack of demand.

        • dalai guevara

          Get on your bike and visit the land – see response above…qed

      • dalai guevara

        It is quite simple to see the answer: the UK economic recovery since the mid-Nineties is…debt based. We have hit our own national ‘debt ceiling’.

        • Rahul Kamath

          What on earth is a national debt ceiling?

          • dalai guevara

            Hahaha, that is a good joke. Thinking about it, there isn’t really one, is there…

      • Powder

        No lack of demand; lack of ability to afford. And most of that is due to the fact that supply doesn’t meet demand. Vicious circle that can only be broken by central government doing several things, including relaxing planning controls.

        • dalai guevara

          Your analysis is convincing, your solution not so much. Why would anyone want affordable housing quotas to be abolished (as they have)? Is it perhaps because we are in fact following up on a completely different agenda? More affordable housing would tackle the issues you describe. There is simply no interest in offering that (to a modern standard) when large parts of our overleveraged existing housing stock needs to hold its value.

          • andagain

            Why would anyone want affordable housing quotas to be abolished (as they have)?

            I suppose the most obvious reason is that they prevent anyone from building anything unless they start by building houses everyone objects to.

            Perhaps it is me being cynical, but I expect that there are fewer objections to the construction of large, pleasant, expensive houses that will be sold to people who are wealthy, or at least have little to do with the benefits system.

            Or to put it another way, the fewer requirements you place on developers, the more developments are likely to manage to get through the planning system.

  • In2minds

    So we know what Nick Boles wants but what do the people want? Mind you that might not matter!

  • Rahul Kamath

    Boles is mostly right. Somehow I doubt that his PM, who seems so beholden to the old and the property owning, is likely to push through policies that should lower housing prices. Then again, the stamp duty changes did happen so maybe there is hope.

    • William Blakes Ghost

      Boles isn’t right. There are far more fundamental issues undermining the housing market.

      i) Lack of confidence in the economy and the financial sector and as a result a general lack of investment

      ii) Building trade aversion to building affordable housing (its not profitable)

      iii) Fear of the day interest rates start rising

      iv) Earnings for many have failed to keep up with prices including the cost of housing of the last few years

      v) The amount of debt people are carrying generally these days (particularly the former students who now have student debt as well) makes qualifying for housing loans that much more difficult.

      I doubt any of what he says will in reality make much difference.

    • TomTom

      Yes building more houses will,lower property prices you think ? Older houses are much cheaper than new builds which are 40% overvalued. It is new build that causes house-price inflation because it is VAT-exempt whereas Refurbishment carries 20% VAT

      • Rahul Kamath

        What are you two on about? I’d recommend you pick up an economics textbook and read it. It may help you understand Boles arguments a bit.

  • eeore


  • HooksLaw

    The problem with development is what we see currently. Rainwater run off and coping with it.
    Significant parts of Britain are not build-able on, too high or too low. other parts are too ‘beautiful’ and other parts are too valuable agriculturally.
    So why I take Boles’ point it is not as clear cut as he puts it.

    Such problems as we face could be significantly resolved if we had sane and enlightened planners and developers.

    • ButcombeMan

      There are lots of sites with planning permission but no commercial pressure to develop. No money, no mortgages and no confidence.

      Further, the Coalition has set itself against development of large oversized gardens in (relatively) high density areas.

      Plain bloody stupid. High density areas typically have transport availability and infrastructure.

      In this coalition government, we are dealing with intellectual pygmies.

      Despair? Yes..

      • Michael990

        “Further, the Coalition has set itself against development of large oversized gardens in (relatively) high density areas.”. Don’t be ridiculous. It is the reasonable size of gardens in our leafier suburbs that attracts people to live in them. Infilling by greedy developers looking for a quick profit, of which I assume you must be one, rapidly spoils the areas, overloads the drains and the rest of the local infrastructure.

  • David Lindsay

    What a ridiculous creature is Nicholas Boles, lately Director of the proven forgers’ den that is Policy Exchange, a trading name of Michael Gove’s office, and also signed up to the Henry Jackson Society with its call for a single EU defence “capability” under day-to-day German (or, in the Sarkozy days, possibly French) command but under overall American control as a proxy for Israel. Israel, whence hails Boles’s civil partner, the better to communicate with whom he has been learning Modern Hebrew and charging it to parliamentary expenses.

    Instead of whatever has been proposed by this thieving, warmongering buffoon, there must be a tax on the productive value of land per acre, other than that occupied by the homes of the less well off, perhaps making possible the abolition of stamp duty, and in any event establishing and enforcing the principle that no one should own land other than in order to make use of it; this was proposed by Andy Burnham when he was a candidate for Leader of the Labour Party. There must also be a statutory requirement of planning permission for change of use if it is proposed to turn a primary dwelling into a secondary dwelling, a working family home into a weekend or holiday home.

    The Attlee Government created the Green Belt and the National Parks, which no party or politician committed to neoliberal economics could possibly be expected to do anything other than destroy utterly. Step forward, Boles. Real agriculture is the mainstay of strong communities, environmental responsibility and animal welfare (leading to safe, healthy and inexpensive food) as against “factory farming”, and it is a clear example of the importance of central and local government action in safeguarding and delivering social, cultural, political and environmental goods against the ravages of the “free” market. Farm subsidies, which this country had for 30 years before going into what was really always the EU, are a thoroughly excellent idea. Provided that we run them ourselves, and provided that, as set out above, we establish and enforce the principle that no one should own land other than in order to make use of it.

    In August, Policy Exchange proposed that money from the sale of council houses be used to build up to 170,000 new social homes per year, the largest programme for the construction of social housing since the 1970s, which in turn would create as many as a third of a million jobs. The Coalition will never do it. It would entail the ultimate repudiation
    of Thatcherism, her assault on council housing being the one thing that her supporters still feel able to defend unconditionally.
    In reality,
    it created the Housing Benefit racket and it used the gigantic gifting
    of capital assets by the State to enable the beneficiaries to enter the
    property market ahead of private tenants, or people still living at
    home, who had in either case saved for their deposits. What, exactly,
    was or is conservative or Tory about that? Or about moving in the
    characters from Shameless either alongside, or even in place of, the respectable working class?

    And now, the doubts are being expressed even in the belly of the New
    Right beast. If Labour promised to build 170,000 new council homes per
    year, the largest programme for the construction of social housing
    since the
    1970s, thereby creating a third of a million jobs, then what would the
    New Right think tanks, their in house newspapers, and their in house Newsnight have to say? “Vote
    Labour”? If not, why not?

    All in all, Ed Miliband, Jon Cruddas and Maurice Glasman, over to you.

    • HooksLaw

      You must hold the record for most successive words that are utterly meaningless

      • David Lindsay

        Mistaking the meaning of “meaningless” is almost an achievement.

    • Archimedes

      You certainly seem to be capable of writing an awful lot in a very short amount of time…I wonder if it prevents you from stopping to think?

      Other than that, and the overwhelming quantity of abstract information, for which my delicate generation are not built, owing to a deficiency in our attention spans -or evolution in our attention spans, as I’m now inclined to believe, having read your verbiage, I found your piece to contain enough air to inflate a dingy, and enough substance to starve the appetite of a supermodel.

      • DavidDP

        Mr Lindsay was the chap who, if you will recall from the threads about the libel against Lord MacAlpine, stated the the truth does not matter provided the political point made and political victory scored. As such, his writing is likely to be full of untruths and his arguments not worth taking seriously (as if the statement that building social housing was a repudiation of Thatcher wasn’t an indicator enough of that).

        • Archimedes

          I don’t recall. I don’t make a habit of reading what he writes. Life is simpler this way.

    • DavidDP

      “All in all, Ed Miliband, Jon Cruddas and Maurice Glasman, over to you.”

      Are they they new presenters of Through the Keyhole? After all, it is pretty much all they are qualified for……..

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