OFT and Housing

james armstrong james36armstrong at hotmail.com
Sun Mar 20 16:09:53 GMT 2011

The housing crisis has just got worse. - again. The causes are many
but at the  back of them is the exploitation of those in housing need for profit motives by the banks, the plc housebuilders and, to pursue political agenda of unsustainable growth ,
by HM Treasury and by opportunist politicians of every hue.
You may want to write to your MP and OFT on the following lines.

Director General, OFT                                                       
from   James Armstrong                   

2-6 Salisbury Square, London
 EC4Y  8JX                             

 HM Business Secretary
of State, Mr Vince Cable , M.P.,     

John Healey, 


Dear Sirs,                     HOUSEBUILDERS’ UNLAWFUL  LANDBANKS

     What words do
you  use to describe a disaster which has
just taken a step change for the worse?   
The announcement  to-day that new
house supply in UK in 2010 reached  the
lowest total since the 1920’s at some 125,000 compared with  160,000 completions in 2009  and a target of 240,000 (  ODPM 2008 etc), -  is the decade long disaster which has just
got worse. Another  relevant stat ,for comparison is that estimated net
annual immigration to UK
is 150,000 pa.


the backlog of new houses unbuilt increases annually while family formation
increases. The rate of completions reduces, 
house prices are out of reach and site prices for new houses are near an
all time high. Analysing the scale and causes of the crisis, as long ago as
2003, Barker reported  the giant plc
house-builders make more profit on land value increases than on building houses
on the valuable land-with- planning- permission which they own or control and
which is the only bulk land in UK  where
the much needed but un-built houses may be built – under the land control
system of  the Town and Country Planning
and Compulsory Purchase Act.

         The current
situation represents the completion of the latest Enclosure Movement.  First of 
all common land, second of land in general and now a controlling  share by a couple of dozen giant p.l.c’s of
all land in UK  designated for housing. 

             This is
a  logical progression in degree of
malice and greed, since  site values
now  exceed agricultural land values by a
ratio of 200:1 or greater. Generally  the
market is destroyed and specifically, plc’s 
landbanks unlawfully and unfairly effectively deny  land to individual self builders who cannot
buy bulk land- and who control no land-banks against the public interest.

of Fair Trading refuse to prosecute the house builders for flagrant market
destruction (pushing up site  and house
prices by  making a corner in   land for housing).

This demonstrates complicity in persistent market
destruction on a £billion annual scale. 

This is unlawful exploitation for gain of the non
landowning  population and , unknowingly,
on those in housing stress,  by plc
house-builders, by landowners  and by
land speculators.   

of  this crisis is a criminal breach of
the universal human right to access housing and family life in which  OFT, by inaction, are complicit.

          OFT are tasked 
to  utilize the existing anti-competition
law with power to prosecute  the
landbanking  plc  house-builders and to compulsorily purchase
(as envisaged under the Act ) the potential landbanks at non- monopoly
prices  or confiscate the unlawfully
controlled land as a fine.  

       Since there is
no other land for houses- there is no other solution except abandoning planning
restrictions. To bring this about requires a huge concerted protest by   those in housing stress, and a test case  demonstrating that the present housing crisis
is a breach of human rights by landbanking plc house-builders in which HMG are
willing collaborators. 

   For over a decade,
OFT  has systematically failed  to address the greatest instance of market
destruction in UK.
This  vitally  harms the public interest. These actions by
corporate plc’s and as shown, by the Duchy of Cornwall,  in evidence supplied to OFT inflate  house prices by reducing supply and
controlling and withholding  bulk housing
land from use-especially by potential self builders. 

    OFT failure
to  act to end this market destruction
invalidates their existence.  HM Treasury
 and Bank of England are complicit by
welcoming rising house prices to stimulate mortgage and debt generally. Socially
harmful debt  levels aid the private
profit motivated activities of the financial sector of the economy, and harm
those in housing stress in particular and restrain the potential of the self
build sector.             J  A.


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