Daily Archives: December 12, 2012
In a speech today Teresa May claimed
One area in which we can be certain mass immigration has an effect is housing.
“More than one third of all new housing demand in Britain is caused by immigration.
And there is evidence that without the demand caused by mass immigration, house prices could be 10 per cent lower over a 20 year period.”
She also said in future the impact of immigration on house prices would be included in government impact assessments.
Evidence by Professor Stephen Nickell to the House of Lords Select Committee on Immigration in 2008. Para 171. when he was chair of the NHPAU which of course the government has now abolished. We don’t know the source but we can imagine it was the defunct NHPAU model, so how the government intends to incorporate this into impact assessments in the future without any model I don’t know.
Of course it is meaningless talking about house prices on the demand curve side of things without talking about the supply curve and the impact that immigration has had on lowering housebuilding and renovation costs, as well as the impact on GDP / head it has which of course makes housing affordable in the first instance. The same report concluded that immigration enlarged the economy as a whole but the impact on GDP/head was small for the existing population but large for the immigrant population.
I hope Teresa May has learnt the lesson from the US on the success a vote for us if your native and we close off opportunities for members of your family if your not had at the last election , and how it will have more and more negative impact over time. It is hard to imagine too how a future conservative majority can be secured without a big win in London, which from the census we now know is majority non-white. The path to victory for the conservatives lies not with the paloeconservative policies of May but with those of Boris Johnson.
A small point but Professor Nickell’s evidence was not looking at the impact of mass immigatation but the hypothetical impact of no immigration at all, no one outside UKIP or BNP
Mr Cameron insisted to MPs that more house-building and “fracking” to release shale gas were needed to provide for Britain’s economic needs.
He backed the argument of Nick Boles, the planning minister, for more building in the countryside. Mr Boles said nine per cent of England had been built on, and suggested it should be 12 per cent.
Mr Cameron denied setting a target for developing rural land, but said Mr Boles was right in that it would be necessary to build on some green spaces. “He was making a point, that we are not building enough houses,” the Prime Minister told the Commons liaison committee. “If we want to build more houses, we will have to build on some greenfield sites.”
He said he was keen to be part of a shale gas “revolution”, adding: “If we ignored it completely, you could be giving your economy much higher energy prices than is necessary.”
I have to agree. I have to agree. Of course not all Crossrail stops are suitable for town centres but many are. Earlier this year I was at a City Hall seminar where an Ealing Society member explained the severe problems of trying to fit several thousand new houses in a town centre with severe conservation constraints. I commented that this was trying to fit a quart in a pint pot and that with three Crossrail Stations planned for Ealing they should pick one and divert large scale retaining and high rise development there. This is a matter that a revised London Plan needs to tackle as any one Boroughy trying to do that would fall foul of the general conformity rule as it is the London Plan that sets the network of Metropolitan Town Centres (of course some stations like Old Oak Common will be better suited as District Town Centres rather than Met Town Centres).
Britain has no strategy for developing successful new urban centres around Crossrail’s stations, Terry Farrell warned the London Assembly this week.
The new and rejuvenated stations will attract development and have the potential to create new town centres, he said, citing London Bridge and Canary Wharf as examples.
“When it does work is when the private sector owns a lot of the land around the station – for example, Broadgate, Kings Cross, Paddington. But that doesn’t always lead to a successful town centre. Paddington still lacks the quality of being a town centre, whereas Kings Cross has worked.”
He said Crossrail and High Speed 2 would strengthen existing town centres and have the potential to create new ones at places like Old Oak Common in west London, where Farrell is already working.
“You ignore the potential of transport at one’s peril,” he said.
Other countries, such as Hong Kong where the transport authority controls the stations and the land around them, take a far more strategic approach, he added.
Shopping centres like Westfield and Bluewater were examples of how single private-sector developers were often more successful than the public sector at creating new places, he said.
This was not a sinister modern trend, he said: Marylebone High Street was a success because it had largely been in single ownership since the 18th century.
“Masterplanning from the public sector’s point of view has not been very successful. I don’t know what the answer is,” he said.
Labour Assembly Member Val Shawcross described the Crossrail stations, which are currently under construction, as a “string of pearls across London”.
But she added: “I can’t put my hand on my heart and say there is any planning going on to shape the impact of the rising land values. Why can’t the mayor tell us he has a masterplan going on at every one of the Crossrail stations?”
In a tweet yesterday Eric Pickles announced
“I have just laid an Order in Parliament revoking the East of England Regional Strategy. Housing numbers now back under local control”.
But after revocation one thing local planning authorities will have very little control over is the housing numbers in their local plans. Indeed local planning authorities have as much control over lowering housing targets as they have over raising council tax over the capped limits i.e. zero.
Lets recap on some of the issues covered in this blog. Before the election Caroline Spelman wrote to conservative authorities saying how in a post RSS world LPAs would be able to lower housing targets, later Pickles stated that revocation would mean removal of over 20 threats to revised Green Belt boundaries (on the latter point Ill blog later today, but you can guess where I’m coming from. Green Belt revision is now back on the Agenda, with a vengeance) .
Their was a threat that removal of RSS would leave many holes, particularly for authorities that relied on ancient local plans or structure plans (such as Cornwall of St Albans for example). Since the election that threat has receded in that many more plans are adopted or at pre-submission stage (the first stage at which you can make a decent first of a prematurity argument). So that now the housing target vacume scenario applies to only around a quarter of local planning authorities rather than half. But it is this quarter that have been most obstinate, most deliberately slow and most deliberately determined to push housing targets as low as possible. The other thing they have in common of course is being mostly conservative and having an average age of Councillor of around 70 who have already paid off their mortgage long ago and hence are so hardly a modal demographic of England.
But despite the potential vacume and the government push for increased housing they have little worry that housing targets will fall. Why? The National Planning Policy Framework of course. This requires in para. 47 to “boost significantly the supply of housing”. Note the wording, not completion, supply, one half only of the supply demand nexus. So it means boosting the supply side of housing, that is how much land is allocated for housing and how high the targets area. Before the NPPF a very small number of LPAs managed to convince inspectors that local demographic changes allowed a slight tweaking down of numbers than in RSS. None since the NPPF to the best of my knowledge and para. 47 implies upward only revisions to housing targets and cannot reasonably be interpreted in any other way. Certainly inspectors such as at Rushcliffe only this week are interpreting existing targets development plans as floor targets.
What about after revocation? Well even if RSS had never been adopted in the first place the evidence base behind them, and the sub-regional numbers for allocations, exist, as do many properly conducted SHMAs. Given the duty to cooperate and the requirement of the NPPF to meet objectively determined need, including potential need that cannot be met from other areas any LPA that is maintaining the now out-dated Spelman-Pickles doctrine that local targets mean lower targets is cruising for a bruising.
Of course LPAs have to vote at full council to submit a pl;an with realistic targets. But the use of the word ‘choice’ by him is illusionary. Their is no choice at all, national policy makes the setting of objective need is a technical not a political issue, if you don’t the choice will be made for you by an independent inspector (the changes will go back to the Council for a vote following the Localism Act but of course their is zero choice in the matter) and if you disagree with your neighbors inspectors as at Rushcliffe will take that as a near automatic signal that an LPA has failed to plan strategically across boundaries. So in reality its about as much ‘control’ as a prisoner has, the choice have already mean made and the sanctions ensure that sooner or later the decision with be forced. Pickles is making lpas take the decision locally but in reality Osborne is controlling it. Under muscular localism there is no degree of choice in the matter.
Of course there will be a minority of authorities that will try and confuse matters by not objectively assessing need. The practice of major developers is already to publish their own studies which as in several appeals in Stratford -on -Avon inspectors will be inclined to accept. This leaves smaller developers in the lurch a bit but here a planning consultant has to do is demonstrate that local non-objective targets are not realistic and then the NPPF will be entirely permissive.
Crunch time is approaching for many LPAs by virtue of the CIL deadline, even if delayed by a year, as in rumored, LPAs really need to be submitting around now realistic and NPPF compliant plans. Those that are not, even those with widespread Green Belts, will be in deep s##t as it will then be open season on garden grabbing and densification with adopted plan policies showing where the displaced housing will go.