[diggers350] know a friendly MP , publicist etc?

Mark Brown markibrown at hotmail.com
Tue Jan 13 22:18:35 GMT 2004

Adrian Sanders - Lib Dem MP for Torbay - was the MP who lobbied the 
government with regard to the level of subsidy given to landowners while in 
parliamentary session over the Land Registration Act 2002
Look forward to reading yr draft letter

>From: "james armstrong" <james36armstrong at hotmail.com>
>To: diggers350 at yahoogroups.com
>Subject: [diggers350] know a friendly MP , publicist etc?
>Date: Mon, 12 Jan 2004 19:06:36 +0000
>I am currently trying to get Office of Fair Trade to do their job and
>investigate the monopoly of land holding and housing supply by a tiny
>minority of big landowners and declare it as against the public interest,
>using the interim report of the Barker Review of Housing Supply set up by
>Prescott as ammunition and throwing it back to the OFT.
>The local MP Letwin is not likely to push  the Govt on the issue  so does
>anyone know which MP is sympathetic to  reforming the land issue?  or
>radical change in the housing supply?   Or who could publicise the issue?
>You'll get the flavour from the attached  letter to OFT.
>Office of Fair Trade,
>Copies                Barker Review of Housing
>                            Oliver Letwin MP
>                            Private Eye Magazine
>                            Office of Duchy of Cornwall
>                                          10th January 2004
>Dear Sirs,                                              Re Barker Interim
>Report  on Review of Housing Supply Dec 2003
>   My  letter of    9th Jan   asked the OFT to consider the existing  
>of housing by large building contractors as a restraint of trade.     I now
>enclose examples of monopoly conditions in the supply of houses.
>   - Dorchester - An example of local monopoly conditions in the supply of
>housing as a restraint of trade.
>-  Duchy of Cornwall as an example of  housebuilding  and house pricing
>being  in the hands of few individuals  operating multiple local 
>and  able from  their monopoly landholdings to influence the market to 
>advantage .in Dorchester, and other population areas in which the duchy 
>- Price Fixing  'trickling out'
>-price setting policy- cost plus or "Market pricing " policy ?
>Captive Housing Consumers
>In  conditions where the  consumption of housing is not optional  .and the
>supply is restricted   the suppliers are in a position both to limit the
>supply raise prices.   The presumption must be that they will act in their
>own and not the consumers, interests.      In these conditions , the price
>and the quantity of the new houses supplied will have a disproportionate
>effect on the price of existing stock of housing.
>This is in fact what is happening and no doubt led to the setting up of the
>Barker Commission.
>The Commission should therefore look at the supply side of housing in
>An analysis of unit building costs in relation to unit selling prices will
>determine if the large  landbanks
>Held by  a restricted group of  building contractors allows them to control
>the supply of houses and their price..
>The examples of the Duchy and the scarcity value realised  from just two
>sites of £0.9 billion(my estimate)  from just this one operator in the
>business of house supply suggests where the Barket Review should look in
>detail to explain the crisis in House supply in UK
>A Lacuna in Barker is that it does not analyse the price fixing strategy of
>Contractors.or principals. . Barker describes large building contractors
>"Trickling out" completed houses over a period. This also clearly restricts
>supply. And restrains trade   Self build house builders do not "trickle
>Price Fixing Policy   The "What the market will bear" price fixing strategy
>for new houses as is the case in Poundbury, involving mark ups of over 200%
>over building costs is also a restraint of trade affecting would be
>purchasers for the existing housing stock which rise in sympathy in a non
>elastic supply situation. (see Barker)
>At Poundbury high prices  and very low site costs of £100's per unit
>suggest that Included in the quoted selling  price is an up to  £100Kper
>unit  component to realise the windfall gain  as agricultural land is re-
>No doubt the Duchy will give Barker full co-operation in confirming this.
>   Would you please consider these considerations point to the present
>supply of houses by contractors  is a restraint of trade and therefore
>subject for review by the  Office of Fair Trade?
>Would you please send me a list of subjects OFT has reviewed  since 1990
>offering a larger restraint of trade than land and housing supply in UK ?
>                          Yours faithfully,
>James Armstrong,
>                                                      13th Jan 2004
>Dorchester as an example of local monopoly conditions of  building land and
>housing supply
>1990 Town Plan
>The 1990 town plan for Dorchester drawn up by the West Dorset District
>Council  designated agricultural land to the west of the town  consisting 
>Poundbury Farm and Middle farm for housing and mixed development.    Part 
>the land is an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.            Approx 500
>houses are being built on this land,  most selling at over £200,000 and 
>over £300,000.    The estate belongs to the Duchy of Cornwall.
>2003 Town Plan
>The new plan for the town of Dorchester was issued in Jan 2003 looking 
>   for the years up to 2011.
>This designates farm land to the west of Dorchester, also on the Middle and
>Poundbury farms  for development as housing.  Some of this land is an area
>of Outstanding Natural Beauty.   This land belongs to the Duchy of 
>532 additional houses are planned for this   area of which 30% are to be in
>the category called "Affordable Houses"
>The balance of 70% will be sold at prices which  we may anticipate will be
>in excess of £300,000 per unit .
>Both in 1990 and now in 2003 the Duchy of Cornwall is the largest 
>in both cases having more than 50% of the land newly designated for housing
>in Dorchester.    We may anticipate that without any change in the
>procedings that in 2011 when the next plan is drawn up the same developer
>will  again be the largest developer who will realise another windfall of
>This , together with the "market price fixing" policy  is clearly a
>situation which acts in restraint of trade in the housing supply
>Figures produced by the Barker review show that just 10 building 
>hold enough land in land banks (which is likely to be suitable for
>designation for housing development ) to  build the UK total requirement of
>housing for the next 6 years at the present annual rate of construction.
>Landowners, including the Duchy of Cornwall are not investigated   in the
>Barker review, which restricts itself to  the landholding of the building
>contractors.   Thus the Duchy of Cornwall is not mentioned since the houses
>are built by Independent contractors.  In Dorchester the contractor isMs
>Fry while the land owner and the housbuilding principal is the Duchy of
>Duchy of Cornwall an example of monopoly landholding on a national scale.
>exerting local monopoly
>Refer to Simon GrayEstate  Surveyor to the Duchy for number of sites
>nationally where housing is being built or where land is designated or 
>be expected to be designated in up to 2016.
>Refer to  Simon Conibear  developmwent manager of Poundbury , Dorchester 
>analysis of duchy's pricing policy.
>Duchy is curently building   two tranches of 500 houses in Poundbury
>Dorchester .  . The scarcity value of the completed houses  is estimated to
>net the Duchy £600 million.
>Duchy is proposing to build 500 houses  SE of Newquay which may be expected
>to net in excess of £300 million profit  representing the scarcity value
>element of the completed houses
>Other large landowners and buildng contractors with land banks can be
>expected to be realising  larger net profits as they realise scarcity 
>           James Armstrong
>                                                  22 Dorchester DT1 1LE
>OFT  Barker
>13th Jan 2004
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