Housing need before developers’ greed

Posted on: 14th March 2018

So when Theresa May owned up to spending her youth ‘running through fields of wheat’, perhaps she was still being economical with the truth? It seems she may have been sizing up those fields as future building plots…judging by her statement this week on housing and planning!

But the PM is right. There’s a housing crisis. Especially (but not exclusively) for younger families seeking a secure and genuinely affordable home of their own.

Yet, in my humble opinion, her solution is part of the problem. Not the answer.

In fact, all Parties (yes, including my own!) have got it wrong. There’s a pointless macho bidding war going on between them; all claiming they could build more homes than anyone else. Excessively over-rewarded senior execs of large-volume house builders and land speculators must be licking their lips…

The PM should come to Cornwall to discover that increased house-building on its own isn’t the answer. Cornwall is not a NIMBY region. We’ve grown faster than almost everywhere else in the UK – more than doubling our housing stock in the last forty years.

Yet the housing problems for locals have got worse. So simply heaping thousands more houses on places like Cornwall is not in itself the answer.

This is what Theresa May’s Conservatives have done for housing in the UK:

  • Sold off council homes and not replaced them
  • Spent £billions subsidising second home owners (through Council tax exemptions and tax loop-holes)
  • Introduced planning laws which put greed above need
  • Placed those who can’t get a council home or a mortgage at the mercy of a sector characterised by extortionate rents and extreme insecurity

The answers lie, not (as proposed) in handing the agenda to land speculators and large volume house-builders, but in reversing each of the above policies.