• The biggest governmental failure (not just regulatory) for the people of London is not the tall buildings on the skyline, rather the almost complete removal of the affordable housing grant, the fact that housing need cannot be met by the private sector and the inflexibility of green belt policy/NIMBYs in the suburbs.

    The latter group of people have also been advantaged by the fact all of the above has lead to an explosion in their value of their asset, abided by politicians.

    Until Brexit came along and sucked the life out of constructive political discourse, housing needs, particularly in the south-east, was rapidly becoming the most pressing political issue. Most people in the industry would likely agree Sadiq Khan has done some good in reorienting the planning system in London but we are so far behind meeting housing need, I cant help but think the future is grim.

  • Well. As I've said in various places, I don't think that there are too few homes. The problem is the number of empty homes (not even counting second homes) and the fact that many places are seriously under-populated (e.g. in the North).

    The constant call for more house-building in my view can only have the effect of continuing to overheat the already-overheated housing market. Obviously, there needs to be some rate of renewal of housing stock, and it is deplorable that social housing has been so diminished, but homelessness and poverty (certainly in-work poverty) are caused to a very large extent by so many former council-owned homes having ended up in the private sector, with people having to pay a far too high proportion of their income in rent. Against that, 'affordable housing', while better than nothing, is a fig leaf, even if set at a more humane rate than Johnson's ridiculous 80% of market price.

    And yes, London probably still attracts more people than can sensibly be housed at the moment, a scenario replayed in every boom town in the world. At one point, a London planner told me, the rate of growth was higher than at any point in London's history, with hundreds of people arriving to live here every day. (This was before the 'Brexit' vote.) But why does everybody want to live in London (and other large cities) while other places are haemorrhaging populations? Obviously because people get a lot more information now about faraway places so that moving is easier--and indeed applying for jobs far away, what with on-line interviews, etc.--, and because there has been an increased tendency in the economy to concentrate activity in fewer places, because of automation and artificially suppressed transport costs, so that people see their local economies contracting and try to go somewhere where they think the jobs are in order not to be caught in what they perceive as an economic backwater, often leaving behind a fall in house prices where they come from.

    While I support Green Belt policies, what is certainly true is that more activity should be moved to centres other than central London, and NIMBYism doesn't help with that. However, the most pressing need is still to rebalance London's economy with that of the rest of the country.

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