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Old June 9th, 2011, 02:02 PM   #41
potto
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Originally Posted by Core Rising View Post
Is it possible to have social housing skyscrapers? It is something I have wondered before. I'm guessing the cost is the prohibitive factor.

surely its the most practical way to increase living standards eg room size, increase supply and not increase urban sprawl.

Even if they do end up at the high end of the market due to higher design requirements by its very nature it would significantly increase overall supply of housing stock in city by freeing up existing stock for a different market.

The legal process of the planning system will add unnecessary costs with too many people complaining about seeing buildings so this process could easily be streamlined but we would want an attractive design led solution for such visible structures.

So an approved design process already in place for different types (sizes?) of buildings which would slot into an areas development plan would help here.
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Old June 9th, 2011, 02:19 PM   #42
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Even if they do end up at the high end of the market due to higher design requirements by its very nature it would significantly increase overall supply of housing stock in city by freeing up existing stock for a different market.
You are falling into the same trap again.

It would increase the supply of a certain type of housing stock. A type that we have a proliferation of already and not everyone wants. The lesson needs to be learned that most people dont want to live in ultra dense urban apartments. Once that is understood we can move on and get to grips with the problem. I fear you have been suckered by the self serving mantra of property developers of how its beneficial to build shed loads of apartments on small plots of land and charge sky high prices. Of course they like that. Its far more profitable than buying a larger plot of land and delivering attractive well proportioned family homes.

Keep building apartments and the rural and conservation areas will only became more sought after and ever more expensive.

Also, altough I dont disagree with all your points I really cant understand the thinking behind this :

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d) The monitoring of, heavy taxation of buy to let purchases and 2nd homes maybe even enforced quotas if taxation does not help
Like I have said it is not the provision of flats that is the problem. Discouraging buy to letters would only damage the rental flat market and drive up what are already sky high rental costs further.

We need homes and to get them we need to reconsider the green belt and push back on the 'ever denser, ever smaller, ever pricier' mantra.
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Old June 9th, 2011, 02:32 PM   #43
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And yet quality suburban developments from the 30's and before, urban developments such as the mansion blocks remain timeless and forever appealing. Until it is generally understood that only a proportion of the population want to live in mass produced blocks and that most people like a bit of personal space and an attractive environment, nothing will change.

Once again, what hope have we got of getting people within these urban (or rural) gems to welcome in new development on their doorstep when the odds are they will be confronted with will be substandard and erode the quality of their location.

Taking an interest in architecture as I do I personally blame the generally poor quality of the output more than any other factor.
How do you explain the large number of tiny, bland suburban housing built in estates like this?

http://p2.aboutproperty.co.uk/full-p...es.2377894.jpg

In Nov/Dec I cycled across northern Belgium (a country more crowded than Britain) from the Netherlands, allowing me to see the sprawling suburbs of Antwerp, Ghent, etc. These buildings were mostly detached, large and individual in design (a bit like you use to get in the US). Compared that to the joke type homes being constructed in Britain's 'burbs. In fact, those places were far nicer than the inter-war and early post-war semis.

Fact is any business will cut costs if it can get away with it to increase profit, that's obvious and something Adam Smith wrote a lot about. Residential developers know they can shrink home sizes (they have) and save elsewhere, because demand is so high. Blaming architecture doesn't get to the heart of the issue.
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Old June 9th, 2011, 03:55 PM   #44
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Originally Posted by Core Rising View Post
Is it possible to have social housing skyscrapers? It is something I have wondered before. I'm guessing the cost is the prohibitive factor.
Council tower blocks were one of the social disasters of the 60s and 70s so....
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Old June 9th, 2011, 05:13 PM   #45
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But there is no reason they can't be a success if they are a quality design with modern materials and construction. Just look at the student accommodation towers cropping up across the country. Many are very architecturally sound and are affordable. Could this precedent now be extended to social housing?
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Old June 9th, 2011, 05:55 PM   #46
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Council tower blocks were one of the social disasters of the 60s and 70s so....
yes and it is now 2011 if you haven't noticed (or too frightened to notice possibly?). People live successfully in tall buildings all over the world.

Sink estates also exist in all types of housing styles in this country, from decaying concrete estates to recent red-brick semis with front and back private gardens huddled around cul-de-sacs.

You can even see it in small towns and villages containing buildings of character but in areas that have lost economic reason to exist and are not on the radar of the 2nd home for the Summer brigade.
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Old June 9th, 2011, 07:45 PM   #47
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But there is no reason they can't be a success if they are a quality design with modern materials and construction. Just look at the student accommodation towers cropping up across the country. Many are very architecturally sound and are affordable. Could this precedent now be extended to social housing?
Yes. But you need a MIX of tenants. That's the crux of the issue here.

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Old June 9th, 2011, 08:17 PM   #48
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Hmm, Getting rid of high earners from council property is just not going to make a difference. I think it is important that council estates should have a mix of incomes living there to prevent them becoming ghettos. It is important that they are full of people going to work. The problem is that housing has become too expensive and we need a massive expansion of housebuilding to relieve pressure. While new high rises have a role to play they will not solve the problem. High rises have high maintenance which dies not combine well with low rents. Social housing needs to be low maintenance which is generally low rise flats and houses.

House price rises though are not just a function of population change they were also due to cheap credit and people outbidding each other. Stricter controls on lending will reduce future changes in prices. If price growth can be kept below wage growth then affordabilty can be addressed but really the only way to relieve some of the pressure is to massively increase building in countryside. Preferably in New, New Towns.
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Old June 9th, 2011, 09:03 PM   #49
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Hmm, Getting rid of high earners from council property is just not going to make a difference. I think it is important that council estates should have a mix of incomes living there to prevent them becoming ghettos. It is important that they are full of people going to work.
Totally agree....
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Old June 9th, 2011, 09:07 PM   #50
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I think it's probably a good idea to separate out the different issues you have identified.

1. Should council homes be simply for "needy" people. Was this ever the sole reason for their creation? It appears not. They where created in such vast numbers it would suggest that 10s of million of the population would have to have been described as "needy" despite being in work. Why should wealth be a factor?. This is not to say that provision shouldn't be made for those in need, but it strikes me that if there are waiting lists it is a problem caused by a lack of supply (market failure alert) not with the rules governing who lives in a council home. Policy should be trying to solve the supply problem not evicting people from their homes.

2. Second home ownership and people buying to let is a massive problem which is a separate issue to what council homes are for. However it may well be that as a condition of tenancy of council homes you should not be able to own a second (or third or thirty fifth) property. I would have no objection to this. Having rules for council houses occupants is not a new thing but they have been unpicked to create "freedom". There destruction enabled estates to become "dumping grounds" for challenging families and individuals. I have no problem with rules and guidelines as long as they are voluntarily signed-up to and then enforced. Ideally this should be through resident bodies.
Very true. I wish I could be as eloquent! (or for RichW1: Elephant )
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Old June 10th, 2011, 12:16 AM   #51
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I see the word 'subsidy' cropping up all over the thread. This is a hoary old myth about council housing. Council tenants pay rent, and that rent covers the cost of building the housing and its upkeep. In fact, most council housing runs at a profit. Instead of directing anger at those getting paying a fair rent, it is more just to direct it at landlords and banks who extract value from property long after the material cost has been paid for.

Social housing, in its original conception, was not designed as 'welfare' housing for the unfortunate, but as affordable housing for all. Born from the same ideals as the NHS - it was everyone's right to apply for it. Right-to-buy and the effective ban on councils building new stock to replace that sold, has resulted in a criminal under-supply of affordable accommodation and the now popular belief that council housing is another form of handout for the poor. Instead of providing a low rents by spreading the cost of housing over the long term, as state bodies are so well placed to do, we now pay out massive amounts of housing benefit that directly lines the pockets of landlords at well over the actual cost of provision.

It's a familiar pattern found throughout the transfer of public services to the private sector.
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Old June 10th, 2011, 01:19 AM   #52
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I see the word 'subsidy' cropping up all over the thread. This is a hoary old myth about council housing. Council tenants pay rent, and that rent covers the cost of building the housing and its upkeep. In fact, most council housing runs at a profit. Instead of directing anger at those getting paying a fair rent, it is more just to direct it at landlords and banks who extract value from property long after the material cost has been paid for.

.
I'm not sure how you conclude that council housing runs at a profit, this was never my experience. Everyone I know in council housing gets a flat at a very low rent relative to what would be available in the private sector. As a student I once rented a room in a 2-bed council flat for a year, at a little less than market rent for a student room in a privately rented building, and the legal tenant me that my rent covered his whole rent, power, heating, and provided him with beer money. I also worked with a London Borough Council to renovate their older housing stock, both older and 20thC purpose built flats of various types. The cost per unit often exceeded the cost of building new equivalent houses, yet the tenants paid very low rents. I cannot see how this can be profitable for the council at all. I'm not sure that the rent covered much more than the collection cost and perhaps some maintenance.
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Old June 10th, 2011, 01:37 AM   #53
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I'm not sure how you conclude that council housing runs at a profit, this was never my experience. Everyone I know in council housing gets a flat at a very low rent relative to what would be available in the private sector. As a student I once rented a room in a 2-bed council flat for a year, at a little less than market rent for a student room in a privately rented building, and the legal tenant me that my rent covered his whole rent, power, heating, and provided him with beer money. I also worked with a London Borough Council to renovate their older housing stock, both older and 20thC purpose built flats of various types. The cost per unit often exceeded the cost of building new equivalent houses, yet the tenants paid very low rents. I cannot see how this can be profitable for the council at all. I'm not sure that the rent covered much more than the collection cost and perhaps some maintenance.
If council housing ran at a profit the rents paid would have covered all the maintenance for those high rise blocks and would have needed to government funds to build more. Council housing stock might have been in a better state if they were higher in the 60's and 70's. The only way to build a massive supply now would be but farmers land at agricultural prices.
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Old June 10th, 2011, 10:37 AM   #54
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I'm not sure how you conclude that council housing runs at a profit, this was never my experience. Everyone I know in council housing gets a flat at a very low rent relative to what would be available in the private sector. .
The average rent for a council property in London in 2009 was £320 pcm, NOT including service charges (where there is heating/lighting/cleaning etc)

http://data.london.gov.uk/datastore/...-average-rents

The typical build cost of a new property (not including land, which the council either already own - or purchase as a one off, and remember, they can make compulsory purchases) was around £30k in 2000 per property. I dont know the costs are today and I cant find any reference for SH build costs (which are lower than private costs) I will assume it has doubled to £60k

So one years rent is about £3850

20 years rent would cover the cost of a build as far as I can see.

A tenants working life: say, from 20 to 65 equals 45 years of rent!

Thats how it should work.

The biggest flaw is where people don't work when they can (still a very tiny minority) In this case, the rent is paid as housing benefit. Then the rent is paid party by the government and party by council tax.

I think that housing Benefit is an area that could be tightened up.

I am also assuming that some council tax will also go toward the upkeep of housing stock (outside lighting - roadways and access - emergency contingency fund etc).



A fanstastic history of Social Housing in the UK, dispels a lot of the ignorance out there:
http://environment.uwe.ac.uk/video/c...sing/print.htm

Quote: "The importance of provision of social rented housing in meeting housing shortage has diminished and government has placed more importance on its use as a safety net for vulnerable households. The country still has an overall strategic goal of providing decent affordable homes for its people and is proud to be one of the few countries in the world where specified groups, such as the homeless, have a legally enforceable right to housing."

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Originally Posted by Black Cat View Post
I As a student I once rented a room in a 2-bed council flat for a year, at a little less than market rent for a student room in a privately rented building, and the legal tenant me that my rent covered his whole rent, power, heating, and provided him with beer money.
A man that is illegally subletting his property? - you can bet your life he wasnt paying full rent and was probably claiming all sorts of things he wasnt supposed to!

The point also remains that you couldn't afford to live as a student in a 'market priced' property.
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Old June 10th, 2011, 11:22 AM   #55
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A fanstastic history of Social Housing in the UK, dispels a lot of the ignorance out there:
http://environment.uwe.ac.uk/video/c...sing/print.htm

Quote: "The importance of provision of social rented housing in meeting housing shortage has diminished and government has placed more importance on its use as a safety net for vulnerable households. The country still has an overall strategic goal of providing decent affordable homes for its people and is proud to be one of the few countries in the world where specified groups, such as the homeless, have a legally enforceable right to housing."

A man that is illegally subletting his property? - you can bet your life he wasnt paying full rent and was probably claiming all sorts of things he wasnt supposed to!

The point also remains that you couldn't afford to live as a student in a 'market priced' property.
If we could just get to grips with housing developers, land owners etc and get a decent pipeline of suitable homes that meet everyones needs, prices would fall back into line and the need for social housing would decrease hugely. I dont think anyone of any political leaning would argue that it isnt a nonsense that a person on the UK average salary of £28k per year is unable to afford even the most modest accomodation without crippling themselves with debt for their entire working lives.

There will of course be a natural adjustment in due course as the boomers begin to downsize / die off. They occupy a large quantity of the better quality family sized homes and have been reluctant to sell up to now. Look at the tiny portion of the housing stock of this type that comes to market each year. A road near me that has some lovely houses that I would really like to move to if I could hasnt had a single property come to market for over 7 years! The entire road is occupied by retirees living in 4 bed homes whose children left years ago while the younger families are all crammed into shitty new builds round the corner.

On all levels our housing market is not functioning properly and a mass social housing building exercise would merely plaster over the cracks IMO.
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Old June 10th, 2011, 12:00 PM   #56
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^

I agree. I think its almost a crime that working people cant afford to buy their own property if they want to. Others will use the argument that we should follow some other countries examples and learn to rent, but that's NOT what we strive for here.

Unfortunately for all of us, we cant rely on the market prices to ever fall substantially. As with the commercial sector, international investors will invest (very sensibly) in British houses. The more the prices fall, the more the market will open to people abroad. Ive got to know some people from India who are working here, as friends (as opposed to British Indians who I grew up with) Their major priority is to buy property to let and as much property as possilbe. Their whole families contribute. It makes perfect sense! A valuable asset that also has high income generation potential and good luck to them too.

There is another 'touchy' issue.

As a 'so called' civilised country, we take in refugees. If they pass the relevant tests, then they become entitled to Social housing stock as priority cases. Where I used to live there is a every large estate not too far away - Whtie City Estate. A very large % of the tenants there are now refugees.

It is clearly the right thing to do, but it has a 'knock on' effect for housing overall.
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Old June 10th, 2011, 06:22 PM   #57
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I'm not sure how you conclude that council housing runs at a profit, this was never my experience. Everyone I know in council housing gets a flat at a very low rent relative to what would be available in the private sector.
This is because the profits in the private sector are ridiculous. It's a market designed to extract maximum value from tenants, not provide the most affordable rents. Demand so far exceeds supply that landlords can charge far over the actual cost of maintaining a home.

Even house owning extracts surplus value. Nobody can feasibly accumulate enough wealth to buy their own home, so everyone gets a mortgage. The banks make money via the interest on each mortgage, and they keep on making money off each successive owner, long past the point of paying for the complete material value of the house and the land.
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Old June 10th, 2011, 06:52 PM   #58
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I love this tiny corner of London, it seems to be a microcosm of the wider problems;

This dense development on the run down edges of Islington and the City, over 100 new apartments of average build quality but decent apartments:

[/QUOTE]



The value increased with fluff such as concierge, gym and sauna.

The reason why i picked this example as we all know the edge of the City will be able to charge premium but where is the competition? Are we seriously suggesting that a 2 bed room apartment sat next to an ugly roundabout in a desolate and forgotten corner of London is worth nearly 1'000'000 pounds which is 40 times the average pay of London?

There was going to be a new residential tower about 5 years ago just next door to here on the other side of the road with a high level of affordable housing. However this tower doesn't exist and doesn't look like it will exist because it was forced to reduce its height and therefore its quota of affordable housing by EH who thought it would ruin views from a private space where army helicopters land and sometimes people play cricket.

With the lack of affordable homes, bad image and delay created by the EH interference it was then game for another clueless public body, Islington council. Councillors eager for cheap votes played political football with the development and whipped up frenzied emotions in people living in post war social housing blocks of up to 15 stories some 200 metres away infamously claiming it would ruin the village atmosphere of the 1960s urban motorway roundabout. With the usual talk of shadows and new people moving in putting pressure on schools etc.

We need to get to grips with the hopeless planning system and its politics if we are to get out of the mess created.
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Old June 10th, 2011, 07:00 PM   #59
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The problem is, the only solution is a big fall in house prices through strict control of lending multiples. It was low interest rates and the flood of money chasing investments that caused the last boom. The problem is that millions of people need those prices to stay high not feel like they have been bankrupted.

The best solution is to try and manage prices so that prices are flat while inflation and wages grow faster. As price to income multiples fall, keep a lid on prices with stronger credit controls.

The problem is every government reaps positive poll numbers from rising prices. Home owners feel richer when the price of their house rises.

Another problem is that no one wants a large number of house built in any one area at one time as it undercuts everyones elses house price. No developer wants to sell 1000 houses in one go as he would have to slash prices, people nearby would see the value of their homes decline as well. Thats why were talks of a phasing plan of a few hundred houses per year.

Thats one of the reasons why New Towns are cheaper than other towns, ready supply of greenfield sites ready for new family houses. Also New Towns are also built expecting development so there is less nimby pressure. It's no coincidence that the majority future housing supply is based around these towns.

What really needs to happen is a New New Towns program, but not the pussy foot around. Build several towns in the 100,000 200,000 range and have a target build out date of just 20 years. Pay the farmers only 2 or 3 times agricultural value and use the land prices to fund all the infrastructure and still offer cheap homes. Only thing is if you thought the anti runway campaign was bad it would be nothing if told some one they wanted build a new milton keynes near them.
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Old June 10th, 2011, 08:32 PM   #60
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that is just running away from the problem, like the original new town plan and the garden city plan before it.

There is absolutely no reason to make building homes so complicated and uncertain that it is only an option for a cartel that can play the planning system.

If you chose to live in London and reap the benefits it should involve a two-way contract and an acceptance of other peoples right to live in here too in decent accomodation. Light access and privacy are already protected by law so there is absolutely no reason for the constant political battles that bring up illogical non-issues all every time.

If things were more clear and predictable I am convinced that a myriad of new types of developers would enter the market to cater for different budgets.
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