The cross-party report calling for building of social homes at the rate of almost 50,000 a year for the next 11 years stands in danger of simply racking up change-of-use inflation in land prices, putting the unearned value uplift of as much as a multiple of 70 to 155 times into the pockets of speculators. Unless the basic structure of housing provision in UK is changed to restore to local authorities powers of compulsory purchase with taxation on the land-value enhancement this will be the unintended consequence.
The result of right-to-buy has been the sell off of 60,000 council homes, with a £3.5bn public subsidy and 40% of that stock finding its way into the hands of private landlords, who rent it back, often to the same local authority at hugely inflated rates. A straight transfer of public wealth into private hands.
Have the report authors studied the 2016 research that showed unimplemented planning consents for nearly half a million homes? Or that according to government data, analysed by online estate agent HouseSimple, the number of empty homes has risen for the first time in a decade to 205,293, representing £50bn worth of vacant property stock across England?
Research shows that there is little evidence of a short-fall in the housing stock. The crisis we suffer from is largely the result of acute mal-distribution within an economic structure which encourages maximum consumption of a scarce resource, by those with the means to command the market, at the expense of the many with little or no access to capital. Land Value Taxation is one mechanism, which would very swiftly and relatively painlessly provide a counter-balance to this vicious cycle of ever increasing disparity of wealth distribution. The Housing and Planning bill should be rescinded, restoring security of tenure to existing tenants.
The equalization VAT on refurbishment with the currently zero-rate for new-house-build, would remove a 20% incentive to demolish and redevelop. With a level playing field, an objective cost comparison could be made between proper maintenance and redevelopment, with all the social cost the latter involves.
The incentive to demolish & rebuild is nothing to do with the need to expand the FE facilities, as the proposed replacement college building would not offer increased are. It is everything to do with land values in the area and the ever escalating prices that housing can fetch, often bought by buy to let or buy to leave non-doms.
I fully support the listing application for this fine design. The disposition of the building on the site offers generous but secluded, well-treed, courtyard break-out spaces for students and staff, which I am sure must promote a harmonious social life within the college (to be lost in the proposed redev). Particularly admirable is the way the changes of level at entrances are handled, so that the ambulant and the disabled can follow the same routes in what are approaches simultaneously grandiose and informal.
The restricted pallet of material, with the robust terracotta engineering brick walling and a paver of matching clay, has stood up well to the test of time, despite the clear parsimony the college has exercised in the vital area of day-to-day maintenance.
This is great news. So the big money boys do not inevitably win out. Sir Robert, you may rest easy again, where ever you are
It would be good to see some intervention coming from the GLA. I have informed the Deputy Mayor for Housing James Murray, but he has not responded.
The one thing that would/could save them is a community buy-out, but they would need some financial backing from the mayor.