Tomorrows Guardian housing letter
james36armstrong at hotmail.com
Tue Jul 22 18:11:16 BST 2014
The Guardian threatens to publish this letter on Wed 23rd.
"Thanks Guardian for helping solve the
riddle of why more houses are not built in spite of large numbers of people
in housing need and houses
fetching record prices.
“Tesco unlocks its landbank to build 4,000 homes”
(pausing to query how it is that Tesco are so sure to get permission to build houses on land earmarked for retail development and whether the
houses will actually be built and
when ) we refer to The Barker
Review of House Supply Interim report 2003 where just seven named corporate house-builders held landbanks of land surplus to their
present or imminent requirement
equivalent to 732,000
(unbuilt) new houses. Compare the
total new house completions achieved in England in 2013 of 109,370.
Just one named corporate house builder ,
Wilson Bowden, whose annual output
in 2002 was 4,164 houses held a
landbank sufficient to supply more than the whole national new house build or 33 years supply of their own
requirements at their then annual rate of build. Wimpey held 16 years supply and Persimmon 19
Barker explained landbanks -
“housebuilders are primarily rewarded for
obtaining valuable land rather
than responding to consumer needs”
which translated from Whitehallese means that they make greater profit on the rise in value of undeveloped
land than they do from building houses on it!
But it is not only housebuilders who block development by holding
Barker reported that Legal and General held a landbank equivalent
to 79,000 housing units. Although it was unpermissioned land , Barker explained
a housebuilder might hope to have it included in a local development plan.
Near Dorchester , in 1994 the Duchy of Cornwall was granted permission to
build some 8.000 new houses on
land formerly Poundbury farm and Middle farm.
Twenty years later many of the houses have yet to be built.
Now to housebuilders who wont build and insurance companies
(pension Funds ?) who don’t build we have giant corporate retailers,
traditional landowners …and who else ?.... withholding the only land earmarked for
building houses .
It is ironic that self builders reported to the Office of Fair Trading
Home-building (sic) Survey 2008 that finding land was their greatest perceived difficulty.
British housing market is
broken, caused not by a game but by real life monopoly in which the landbankers always win.
James Armstrong (contributed to the
Barker Review and to the OFT Homebuilding Survey )
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