Shapps and the great social land giveaway.

Paul Mobbs mobbsey at
Fri Aug 26 01:03:53 BST 2011

Hash: SHA1

Hi all,

OK, I admit it, I was once a train spotter. But I got over that, and these 
days I just read the press releases from places like the Department for 
Communities (actually, to tell the truth, I'd love to hear the roar of a Class 
50 right now to chear me up after what I just found).

Anyhow, last March I saw a really freaky press release -- one that seem 
complete bats:
"Grant Shapps offers 'Build Now, Pay Later' deal to developers"
30th March 2011

Allow me to quote the illustrative opening paragraphs:
"Housing Minister Grant Shapps has today offered developers a Build Now, Pay 
Later deal to get work started on thousands of new homes without facing the 
expense of buying the land upfront. He published details of the first sites to 
be made available under Build Now, Pay Later, an innovative scheme designed to 
give a shot in the arm to housebuilders that have struggled to get their 
developments up and running. Under Build Now, Pay Later, housebuilders pay for 
the land after they have started work on the new homes, offering a lifeline to 
those struggling with cash flow problems and enabling them to start building 
straight away."

"Build Now, Pay Later"... what?! That would require some sort of business 
partnership deal... Why do I suddenly get deja vu about Dan Smith and the 
great Tyneside high-rise housing scandal?

Hang on, I thought to myself. They can't do that. They'd have to get 
government permission to do such dodgy land deals, and the Audit Commission 
would have a fit because they couldn't prove best value for the disposal.

Then they got/are getting rid of the Audit Commission.

And now, at the height of the Summer holiday season, August Bank Holiday 
weekend, they release a new consultation paper:
"Streamlining council housing asset management: Disposals and use of receipts"
Published 	25 August 2011
Closing date 	17 November 2011

See also the press release at:

Allow me to quote the most elucidatory paragraph of the consultation paper:

"Our proposal is that local authorities would not have to seek specific consent 
to dispose at market value to individuals or bodies not wholly or partly owned 
by them (e.g. registered housing associations) of:
• vacant properties
• occupied properties to the tenants
• properties occupied by tenants of other landlords (e.g. where the property 
has already been leased to a housing association)
• communal parts of flats
• garages, drying areas, and other housing assets that are not used as 
• empty plots of land."

So, beginning at the fringes, here we go with the the great council-owned land 
disposal to the private sector deal!! No application to the Secretary of 
State, less local publicity, public doesn't know what's going on until months 
after the deal's done... let the asset stripping begin!


I don't know if any of you have noticed, but this government really has its 
shit together. All through the nineties, with various others doing similar 
types of campaign work, we collectively dreaded the time when a government 
would come to power that had its whole programme all carefully thought out. 
One carefully design so that they could carefully change everything at once, 
without people seing the inter-related patterns involved, to usher-in the neo-
Thatcherite revolution.

Well, after 20 years, I'm dread to say it but I think we're there.

First bonfire of the quangos; then revision of statutory duties; then changes 
to planning "presumption" rule; then "reforms" (i.e. erasure) of all planning 
guidance (actually, crap though it was, that guidance was all we had to go 
on!); and now, they start messing with the consultation process on council 
land disposals. You have to have worked in all those areas to "get" the 
structure of what's going on, and unfortunately most of the people who've done 
that are not on our side.

There's a whole lot of very careful thought and research gone into all this. 
They're hitting all the right points in the right places to allow a complete 
informal corporate takeover of land and planning. I think we're going to get 
some dead good campaigns opportunities over the next couple of years, but it's 
going to be so gross if the bread-heads get their way :-(


[PS: Watch Richard Benyon over at DEFRA for the next few months -- if this 
pans out further I think he's next in line to make some announcements on 
relaxing environmental protection rules in the name of "cutting red tape" -- 
beyond watering down village green registration proposals that is]

- -- 


"We are not for names, nor men, nor titles of Government,
nor are we for this party nor against the other but we are
for justice and mercy and truth and peace and true freedom,
that these may be exalted in our nation, and that goodness,
righteousness, meekness, temperance, peace and unity with
God, and with one another, that these things may abound."
(Edward Burrough, 1659 - from 'Quaker Faith and Practice')

Paul's book, "Energy Beyond Oil", is out now!
For details see

Read my 'essay' weblog, "Ecolonomics", at:

Paul Mobbs, Mobbs' Environmental Investigations
3 Grosvenor Road, Banbury OX16 5HN, England
tel./fax (+44/0)1295 261864
email - mobbsey at
website -
public key -

Version: GnuPG v2.0.16 (GNU/Linux)


More information about the Diggers350 mailing list