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Old January 25th, 2013, 04:45 PM   #281
potto
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I think the danger of the article and the Tory "think tank" as is always the case the spin is away from dealing with the actually nitty gritty.

Great that fundamentally flawed buildings are being targetted with thoughts about subsidising their replacement.

However I note the term "skyline" being used. Im sorry... skyline? Right there we have the subtle spin. The cunning link in the mind between seeing a building and its dramatic affect on lowering the economic potential of a person and making them ill.

The study links behavioural problems of children on 2nd and 3rd floors, historically having a 2nd or 3rd floor is not particularly unusual or modern in a residential building.

Many more studies on childrens mental health show problems of parenting, diet and outdoor activities as key areas of concern, away from gang membership it is shown that past a certain age children like to play in exciting areas away from the supervised home importantly including the typically sized private garden, instead preferring the street or local park for socialising and adventure. The direct link with modern diet and issues of outdoor safety are key and affect all types of urbanscape in the country. Yet the report does not seem to look at this which is odd.

Other obvious aspects are clearly missing, in that "sink areas" have affected every conceivable building type for centuries. Which is slightly daming on modernism and its hope to cure such issues through architecture but is equally if not more daming on the report for targetting the blame at tall buildings and lack of private gardens which is incredibly bizarre. You just have to look at the cul-de-sacs and traditional semis in areas of economic decay to see that.

Where is the talk of minimum space standards and lack of balcony and communal indoor garden space legislation for tall buildings? This middle class family in Australia appear at home in theirs: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-20578262

What of the disastrously under-legislated rental sector that has split old traditional housing stock into multi-tenancy blocks for which they were NEVER designed. Terrible sound proofing, lack of private and social space and no sense ownership leading to a transient population. You have a perfect breeding ground for mental issues and long term viability of a population right there!

Anyway this is merely rehashing properly funding and scientifically probed research and reports which are all out there waiting to be implemented. I have no idea why this light-weight 'report' is getting such media attention!

http://www.london.gov.uk/who-runs-lo...g-design-guide
http://www.architecture.com/Files/RI...seforSpace.pdf



The report seems to be more geared toward smoothing away opposition toward suburban expansion to the green belt where developers can build cheaper in the short term but leaving us with a poor long term legacy and the city can dump its socio-economic problems in a place that never appears on the skyline.
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Old January 25th, 2013, 05:17 PM   #282
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I'm not sure highlighting a luxury apartment costing millions of Australian dollars is the best way to make a case that a family can quite happily live in a spacious apartment in a tall building, which of course they can. You might just as well point to the exclusive high rise towers in Canary Wharf, but I'm not sure they offer any real clues as to how the majority of people who don't have a few million quid to spend on a luxury apartment, might be satisfactorily accomodated in other tall buildings on the opposite side of Aspen Way.

Anyway I'm all for the central theme of the report. Restablishing dense neighbourhoods of affordable and incredibly sustainable terraced housing, set within streets and squares in our inner cities, is certainly one way to address the housing crisis. Many UK cities have rings of post industrial decay encircling their city centres like a doughnut. These areas should be dense neighbourhoods that increase central 'live in' populations and restablish critical links and connectivity across the city. We've had the apartment gold rush in the noughties, its now time to start building houses in our inner cities and lots of them.
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Old January 25th, 2013, 05:50 PM   #283
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Its merely proof that appearing on a skyline doesnt automatically turn you into a problem family with mental health issues. Isn't that what the light-weight report was really insinuating?

Bringing up the case of it costing "millions of dollars" merely indicates market positioning, do private bars, cinema and high spec kitchen fittings result in better socio-economic performance and limit behavioural issues in children? I doubt these marketed extras desperately slipped in to hide the stingy spaces justifying the fees really matter more than the key components of the quality of private space and ownership.

Are you suggesting the concrete frame and mass-produced cladding of a luxury high rise is somehow many times more expensive than the post war social tower concrete frame and cladding? Again I doubt it. Having to spend millions on a time consuming planning process definitely does.

How much really is generous living space in a tall building? How much would it cost to implement sky gardens and large balcony legislation? It would cost something but would it be out of reach to a middle class family or a mixed cost tower where you pay more for better views? Does it really cost so much more than say paying for a plot of London land to build a 2 story house? Suspicious

I also feel building proper residential streets certainly with limited car use is key and mixed building types creates an attractive landscape but currently there is not much choice in this country with regards to tall buildings along with their half-realised potential in the post war period there remains a stigma that reports like this feed off for hidden agendas. I wouldnt be against subsidising a few experimental high rises to fine-tune working solutions particularly in build processes and livability.

One key though is not to be too prescribed in the design process. Modernism had that flaw in that it became too detailed and fussy over design with all the associated costs in that, sure things like light access and sound insulation and room layout flexibility are worth the design effort in long term benefits but the 20th Century modernist movement delved into the minute details of everyday behaviour, in built features like kitchen cabinet positions etc and misunderstood the chaotic individualism highlighted in the booming consumer culture. People really dont need that and high rises do not need that added design cost, which today is thankfully left to choice, just stick to the core design issues.

Last edited by potto; January 25th, 2013 at 06:34 PM.
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Old January 25th, 2013, 06:12 PM   #284
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Officer Dibble View Post
I agree, no reason to knock towers down if they can be brought up to a good standard - the Aragon tower in Deptford is my local example and while it's still nothing special to look at, I think it's fair to say the refurb was a success.
Actually this past resident says some parts of the refurb needlessly ****ed up some of the original building's good design features.

Edit: Forgot the link, I've never lived there myself
http://www.singleaspect.org.uk/?p=7832

Last edited by citybus; January 28th, 2013 at 10:04 AM.
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Old January 25th, 2013, 06:26 PM   #285
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Eureka is a fairly exclusive development and the tallest builidng in Melbourne city centre. It's not a miserable and bleak social housing tower block stranded on some windswept plaza in the middle of a poor neighbourhood with low socio-economic performance. I don't think the report was insinuating that all high rise living is bad at all. To do so is clearly absurd and in any case it clearly refers to council tower blocks, although I do agree that their argument on cost is rather dubious and misleading. There are however many compelling reasons to demolish tower blocks that are no longer fit for purpose and have become metaphorical symbols of low socio/economic performance.

Modernism and the planning ideals that grew up around it was too prescriptive and either failed to address, or completely ignored the inherent human trait of personality and individuality. I'd go further and say that the only people who were fully afforded the freedom to pursue and enact their own thoughts and ideas were the hugely influential planners who came up with all the daft ideas in the first place. Everyone else was supposed to do what they were told and fulfill their own tiny role in the 'perfectly planned', utopian new world set out in excrutiating detail by the likes of Ebeneezer Howard, with his anti-city agenda, as well as le Corbusier and his monumental, 'inhuman scale' urban visions which still send a shiver of horror down my spine every time I see them. The human trait of individuality was to be crushed and controlled.
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Old January 25th, 2013, 10:52 PM   #286
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Quote:
Originally Posted by citybus View Post
Actually this past resident says some parts of the refurb needlessly ****ed up some of the original building's good design features.
Interesting. What did they get wrong?
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Old January 28th, 2013, 10:43 AM   #287
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See the edit of my previous post up above for the link to the past resident's blog. His main beef with the project was the removal of the fully rotational windows and the nifty sliding wall- which are good examples of where modernist architecture really got things right as opposed to designing stuff that works well in theory but will quickly deteriorate if a miserly borough council neglects to look after it. I don't know, perhaps the developer of Aragon Tower was ideologically opposed to a window that owners could clean themselves without the need for employing an over-expensive firm to clean it for them. This is what Thatcher fought for all her life, how dare the burghers of Deptford subvert the free market so outrageously!

Anyway, my recommendations to improve the housing market would be:-

1. Find a way to make most new build flats dual aspect- you know it makes sense.

2. Make it illegal for landlords to make a profit from service charges- define it as usury and put all infidels found guilty of this crime in the stocks. The companies responsible for maintaining buildings & estates will compete for contracts, and this should bring it down to the 'real' price.
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Old January 28th, 2013, 03:55 PM   #288
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Oh I see, thanks. Pity to lose the fully rotational windows, but I don't buy your conspiracy theory - presumably the developers simply decided the old ones were in a sufficiently poor state of repair that they needed replacing, and were lazy or miserly enough to source standard ones.

Agree dual aspect improves flats enormously, but I wouldn't regulate to do it - dual aspect commands higher price so the market should incentivize that.

Are landlords allowed to profit from service charges now? If so, I agree they shouldn't be.
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Old January 28th, 2013, 08:30 PM   #289
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Well the windows went because a child died after the rotating window pushed him out a similar block of flats.

Most of the rest of the issues brought up were implemented by changes in fire and safety regulations or changes in interior design. We don't usually build bathrooms without toilets anymore and the general taste is for open plan living with the kitchen and living room as one space.
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Old February 2nd, 2013, 12:21 AM   #290
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Here's an interesting story, I would say connected to the lack of social housing...

Architect blasts plans to turn disused Dalston garages into 'bijou' homes



A row has broken out over “morally bankrupt” plans to turn disused garages on an East London estate into tiny flatpack homes.

The designers behind the scheme say that empty lock-ups are exactly the sort of space that should be used to help solve London’s housing crisis.

They have created computer generated images to show how their design could work if applied to garages on an estate in Dalston

It would involve each tiny garage being turned into a “bijou” bedsit with a tiny living space with a kitchen and room for a small table and two chairs, a shower and toilet room and a bed.

Each fifth garage would contain a communal laundry, further kitchen equipment and dining area. Tenants will be charged just £11 a week rent.

But critics says the temporary homes on the Loockner Estate are little more than “caravans” that pack people into cramped spaces.

One architect, David Roberts said: “Personally I think ‘pop up’ housing is morally bankrupt. Any architect who is serious about homelessness should be addressing the causes of the problem, rather than using developer-speak consistent with the commercial forces making housing unaffordable for so many.

“There is political capital in presenting this as temporary solution to underused land, as much as to homelessness but the houses are pretty much caravans.”

But if successful the scheme will be rolled out across London and then the rest of the UK where there are housing shortages for young people who cannot get on the property ladder and the homeless.

The project, known as Pop-up HAWSE (Homes through Apprenticeships With Skills for Employment), has been designed be Levitt Bernstein Architects as part of the Building Trust’s Home competition.

The architects are already in talks with a number of local authorities in London to work on similar schemes. The homes will be built off site and then assembled by future tenants through an apprenticeship scheme.

Jo McCafferty from Levitt Bernstein said: “The proposals not only offer a home but education opportunities in construction techniques.

“It is a way of regenerating street frontage and a practical interim solution between other development possibilities.

“We see it as part of the wider regeneration of existing estates.. It could provide temporary housing, workshops, and training opportunities for maybe one to two years, before moving to another estate after demolition begins.”

Architect Georgie Revell said: “The proposal targets under-used spaces in high density areas where land value is high and rising. We believe it offers a creative and practical interim solution between other development opportunities and we’re really excited about the potential to develop the scheme with Building Trust and our partners.”

http://www.standard.co.uk/news/londo...s-8476412.html

... I wonder if London is entering its 'Tokyo Phase'?!
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Old February 2nd, 2013, 12:34 AM   #291
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They seem to be "pretty much caravans" in the sense that they're small, and that's about it. It would be fine as a private venture, but as a social/council one? I feel a bit uneasy about that. It almost sounds like the fabled "hobbit homes" conspiracy theory.
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Old February 2nd, 2013, 05:23 PM   #292
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Thanks for posting, 486. Proof if any were needed that the chronic lack of new housing is driving more and more people into social housing and forcing all but the wealthy into smaller and smaller boxes.
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Old February 5th, 2013, 11:05 AM   #293
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Quote:
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Thanks for posting, 486. Proof if any were needed that the chronic lack of new housing is driving more and more people into social housing and forcing all but the wealthy into smaller and smaller boxes.
The super-rich are pushing workers out of the capital

-- Link to London Evening Standard article --

For the cost of a small family house in Fulham you could buy a street in Sunderland. For the amount some of the world’s wealthiest people are willing to pay to own a home in Kensington, they could also buy a small town if they looked hard enough. London’s property prices have gone mad. But it is an insanity which is likely to take its toll on the rest of us.

Last week came news that a six-floor mansion in Eaton Square has been put on the market at £70 million. For this you get a particularly nice property and the opportunity to call Roman Abramovich your near neighbour, which may or may not add to the value. The cost is the equivalent of £6,500 a square foot, which beats the previous benchmark of moneyed excess that the Candy brothers were charging for their apartments at One Hyde Park.

What is scary is what it says about the trend. This same house changed hands in 2005 for “only” £9.5 million, and again for £33 million in 2009. Granted, the current owner — Hong Kong property billionaire Joseph Lau — now has a gold-lined swimming pool, a cinema, gym and mews house. But for the price to more than double in two years suggests there can be no limit on London prices.

And in a way there can’t, any more than there can be a price cap on Van Gogh’s Sunflowers. There are only a finite number of houses in Kensington and Chelsea. When these things become the must-have possessions of the world’s super-rich, the sky really is the limit. London prices have exploded because London has become the world’s most desirable city, because there are more rich people now than ever before able to come here, and because the UK is seen as a place which is stable, so their money is safe.

But the effect is to detach London not just from the rest of the UK, but from Londoners themselves. About 18 months ago it emerged that foreign money owned more than half of the City’s offices and the same thing is happening in its most desirable residential neighbourhoods. There are very few Brits among the buyers. The inner oval of central London is rapidly becoming a place where we are still allowed to work but no longer able to live.

Unfortunately it does not stop there. Those who can no longer afford Chelsea move to Clapham and Fulham instead and push prices up there. People displaced in those areas in turn try a bit further out in their turn and the ripple of rising prices spreads ever wider. The result is that prices rise in parts of London an oligarch does not even know exist.

Meanwhile, in the rest of the country, house prices have been falling. Over the past five years, the average increase for London as a whole, according to Savills, is 14.2 per cent (but 49 per cent in Westminster and 37 per cent in Kensington and Chelsea). The falls, from Wales to the North-East, range from 14 to 19 per cent, but the drop in Northern Ireland has been an eye-watering 50 per cent. The value of the entire housing stock of the province is about the same as Wandsworth. Indeed the 10 most expensive boroughs in London, which include Camden and Richmond, have a combined property value of £552 billion. This is identical to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland combined.

We can’t go on like this, because soon no one north of Watford will be able to relocate to the capital, and no one in London will be able to buy a house. It is, of course, possible that we will see a repeat of what happened in Japan, where houses became so costly they were bought with 100-year mortgages — parents passing the half-paid-for home on to their children and grandchildren when they died. But the average house price is already heading for £250,000, which requires a deposit of £100,000. It is hard to see how people could get on the ladder on those terms even with a 100-year loan.

Something has to be done. Real people have to live in London, because while the fine buildings get the credit it is actually the people who live and work here that make it the place it is. It simply won’t work if we all have to commute from Skegness; the bulk of the population has to be able to live close to where the work is.

There are three obvious things which have to happen immediately. The first is that the Government has to reverse its cutback on loans to housing associations so we can have a serious acceleration in the number of affordable homes being built in the capital. Better still, government could provide a backstop guarantee so associations and local authorities could raise money for housing cheaply in the markets.

Second, government should be prepared to subsidise the extra costs that come from building on brownfield sites so that the acres of inner-city derelict land can be turned into decent, usable space — as has happened with the Dome on the Greenwich peninsula and the Olympic site at Stratford. This should happen before yet more green belt and farmland disappears under tarmac.

Third, the big pension funds and insurance companies need to become landlords. They already own offices, factories and warehouses and some have an appetite for student accommodation. Now they need to follow their peers in mainland Europe and move into the mainstream residential market and provide thousands of flats to rent.

It may well be in the future that far fewer of us will own our own home — but that does not mean we should be denied a decent place to live. And paying rent to the company that one day might use the funds to provide our pension is not such a bad second best.
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Old February 5th, 2013, 02:22 PM   #294
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Anthony Hilton makes some good points, but I don't agree with everything (esp. his suggested solutions)...

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It is, of course, possible that we will see a repeat of what happened in Japan, where houses became so costly they were bought with 100-year mortgages — parents passing the half-paid-for home on to their children and grandchildren when they died. But the average house price is already heading for £250,000, which requires a deposit of £100,000. It is hard to see how people could get on the ladder on those terms even with a 100-year loan.
Well presumably the point of a 100-year rather than 25-year mortgage is that you could borrow a much larger sum, so you wouldn't need that big deposit. (I'm not saying it's a good solution.)

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the Government has to reverse its cutback on loans to housing associations so we can have a serious acceleration in the number of affordable homes being built in the capital. Better still, government could provide a backstop guarantee so associations and local authorities could raise money for housing cheaply in the markets.
A good idea if you believe it's essential for housing associations and LAs to be building homes (rather than just owning them). I don't.

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government should be prepared to subsidise the extra costs that come from building on brownfield sites so that the acres of inner-city derelict land can be turned into decent, usable space — as has happened with the Dome on the Greenwich peninsula and the Olympic site at Stratford. This should happen before yet more green belt and farmland disappears under tarmac.
I'm not convinced you need to spend taxpayers' money on this - if you don't let developers build on green belt and farmland then they've got all the incentive they need to develop brownfield sites.

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Third, the big pension funds and insurance companies need to become landlords. They already own offices, factories and warehouses and some have an appetite for student accommodation. Now they need to follow their peers in mainland Europe and move into the mainstream residential market and provide thousands of flats to rent.
That's up to the pension funds and insurers. It doesn't matter what sort of institution is investing in new housing, as long as someone is.

Surely it would be simpler just to scrap all the s106 and "affordable" home quota apparatus, abolish the bulk of planning controls, pare building codes etc down to the absolutely essential, and let supply respond to demand.

Last edited by Officer Dibble; February 7th, 2013 at 01:53 AM.
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Old February 6th, 2013, 11:06 PM   #295
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Refreshing emphasis on the positive potential of density in today's Standard Comment.

We must build more homes for London

Today's call by the Mayor for stamp duty paid on London homes to be returned to London to fund housebuilding highlights a growing issue for the capital.

Alas, the chances that the Government will separate out the stamp duty paid for London homes from that paid by the rest of the country, or hand it to the Mayor, are nil, even though London pays more of it than anywhere else. The tax is levied at five per cent on homes valued at more than £1 million, of which there are many in London; of course we pay more stamp duty.

But the Mayor’s case for building more homes remains sound. There is increasing demand for homes in the capital, as a result of rising population, foreign investment and the virtual collapse in housebuilding. The excess of demand over supply means that housing here will become more pricey, not less. Expanding the supply of homes makes sense.

This can be done sensitively. There are sites already available on under-used public sector properties. As the Mayor says, 80 per cent of the million new homes he proposes could be built on 18 designated brownfield sites. And it is possible to build very high-density housing — as the old Peabody and Guinness Trust estates did — which is both pleasing and on a human scale. The multi-storey, dense Haussmann boulevards in Paris show that it is possible to build intensively and aesthetically. It is not enough simply to build more homes; they must be well-designed. Meanwhile, much of the housing will come from private landlords — and the Government’s Build to Rent fund will expand the sector — but in return tenants need greater protection.

The capital is the engine of the economy. If growth here falters because workers cannot afford to live here, it will not just be damaging to our youth, but to the country as a whole. The call to expand London’s housing stock — however it is funded — is not an appeal to ministers’ social conscience but to the Government’s rational self-interest.
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Old February 6th, 2013, 11:33 PM   #296
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Things seem to be warming up, some wise words from Farrell

http://www.homesandproperty.co.uk/pr...ingcrisis.html

some snippets

Quote:
H&P: So, what’s the problem with our housing?
TF: There are lots of myths and misconceptions about many big ideas. With housing, there is the idea that planning and land availability are the biggest barriers. That’s just not true. Planners give consent for lots of things, which then get stalled because of fear of the market. There are a lot of developers sitting on their hands because of uncertainty over the market. I got planning for 10,000 homes in Greenwich Peninsula, for example, and for 1,000 in Chelsea. So that proves it isn’t lack of land, or a planning problem.
Quote:
H&P: Muddled by what?
TF: British governments have, successively, interfered with housing. The housing market has been skewed by political gerrymandering. Take Margaret Thatcher selling off council housing. Thatcher, as a Tory, wanted more [Labour] votes. Before that, in the Seventies, Labour had had a programme called “municipalisation”, or turning private homes into social housing.
Quote:
That means that everyone puts all their money into their house instead of investing in UK Limited; buying shares in industry and cars like the Germans, for instance.

That locks in uncreativity and pushes the price of houses up. In Berlin, homes cost half what they do here
Quote:
H&P: Where should we build?
TF: There have been claims that we need to build on green belt land. But you don’t need to. There is a huge amount of suitable land without doing that. At Old Oak Common [in west London, proposed site of an HS2 interchange] you could get 10-15,000 homes; another 10-15,000 at White City; 3,000 at Convoys Wharf in Deptford and 3,000 at Wood Wharf on the Isle of Dogs. Look east from Canary Wharf tower, to the Royal Docks. I reckon if you build at central London density you could get 30-40,000 homes there.
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Old February 7th, 2013, 12:35 AM   #297
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wise words from Farrell
Interesting words from Farrell, but I don't think they're all wise...

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With housing, there is the idea that planning and land availability are the biggest barriers. That’s just not true. Planners give consent for lots of things, which then get stalled because of fear of the market. There are a lot of developers sitting on their hands because of uncertainty over the market. I got planning for 10,000 homes in Greenwich Peninsula, for example, and for 1,000 in Chelsea. So that proves it isn’t lack of land, or a planning problem.
Land availability may not be a big barrier, but planning is a colossal one. Not because planners refuse consent, but because they attach well-intentioned conditions that eat into developers' profit margins, such as the (abysmally counter-productive) "affordable" homes quotas and the (far more defensible but often over-burdensome) s106 agreements.

House prices in London are so (notoriously) high that developers should be flinging the things up as fast as they can, to make a packet. The million new homes Boris is dreaming of would be built in no time if supply were only set free to meet demand.

What Farrell calls "fear of the market" or "uncertainty over the market" is simply the result of planners' interventions removing so much of the profit margin that big new residential developments become risky investments rather than no-brainers.

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The housing market has been skewed by political gerrymandering. Take Margaret Thatcher selling off council housing. Thatcher, as a Tory, wanted more [Labour] votes. Before that, in the Seventies, Labour had had a programme called “municipalisation”, or turning private homes into social housing.
In both cases I think the motivation was ideological (Thatcher: we should liberate families and individuals from state dependency; 70s Labour: we should protect people from the inequalities and brutality of the market) rather than cynical and party-political (gerrymandering). The effects in both cases may have included some short-lived party-political gain.

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Originally Posted by potto View Post
everyone puts all their money into their house instead of investing in UK Limited; buying shares in industry and cars like the Germans, for instance.

That locks in uncreativity and pushes the price of houses up. In Berlin, homes cost half what they do here
Okay, those are some wise words from Farrell. It's an important point and I agree completely.

Quote:
There have been claims that we need to build on green belt land. But you don’t need to. There is a huge amount of suitable land without doing that. At Old Oak Common [in west London, proposed site of an HS2 interchange] you could get 10-15,000 homes; another 10-15,000 at White City; 3,000 at Convoys Wharf in Deptford and 3,000 at Wood Wharf on the Isle of Dogs. Look east from Canary Wharf tower, to the Royal Docks. I reckon if you build at central London density you could get 30-40,000 homes there.
Again I agree - I don't believe the green belt must or should be reduced at all. On the other hand I don't have a problem with occasional swaps in and out of the green belt, where the land being developed is not in a National Park or OONB, etc, and where the land being redesignated as Green Belt is contiguous to existing Green Belt and at least equal in size to the land being swapped out.

Last edited by Officer Dibble; February 8th, 2013 at 10:34 AM.
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Old February 7th, 2013, 01:06 AM   #298
El_Greco
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There's absolutely no need to build on the Green Belt. There's plenty of space inside the city, just build higher and denser.
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Old February 7th, 2013, 03:14 PM   #299
potto
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at least try that option first. We havent even tried and we are blabbing on about the green belt.
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Old February 7th, 2013, 03:45 PM   #300
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Boris: Housing developers need to 'get on with it'

Mayor of London Boris Johnson has urged housebuilders to “get on with it”, adding that he had identified 18 brownfield sites that could accommodate 800,000 homes.
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