Coventry May be Forced to Double Housing Target After SHLAA

Coventry Telegraph

Coventry City Council may be forced to allow between 21,000 and 24,000 new homes to be built – more than double the figure it wanted.

Warwick District Council and Nuneaton and Bedworth are also facing much higher numbers than expected – after Coventry and Warwickshire councils commissioned a joint study of housing need.

The new figure for Coventry emerging from the consultant’s study is between 21,000 and 24,000 homes by 2031.

The study comes after intervention from a government planning inspector.

Coventry council’s Labour leaders had hoped to set a housing target of just 11,000 homes – after an election pledge that they would protect all green belt and green fields from housebuilding.

That plan was a third of the 33,000 target for Coventry and bordering land set under the last Tory council and Labour government.

But a planning inspector earlier this year ordered the study, warning the council’s 11,000 target could unfairly disproportionately force more housebuilding in neighbouring areas.

The new figures are set to inform the new “Core Strategy” local plan, which will set Coventry’s housing targets for two decades.

They would have to be approved by the council – but any rejection could fall foul of the planning inspectorate.

The previous core strategy before 2010 planned 26,500 homes for the city and 33,000 once neighbouring land was included.

The plans included controversial plans to build hundreds of homes of green belt in Keresley, King’s Hill near Finham and on land in Bedworth – prompting protests from residents.

Developers are eyeing up the land in Keresley once again, and have made a speculative application to Coventry’s planning department. The last local plan for the city has now expired, giving the council less legal power to reject development on the green belt.

Coun Kevin Maton, chairman of Coventry’s planning committee, insisted the council could still protect all green fields under the new proposals.

He said: “We don’t want to become a commuter city. Green space is crucial.”

Defending the previous target of 11,000 homes, he said: “It was based on population and the amount of employment we could expect in Coventry.” [Err it was capacity based how far did you get with that cllr?]

The study says Nuneaton and Bedworth should build 8,600 new homes; Warwick district 13,200; Stratford 9,600; and North Warwickshire 3,000. Rugby has a target of 11,500.

Why Automated Funds Pose a Threat to the Justification for Capitalism

Much has been written about how automation of labour poses a threat to the political support for capitalism.  But the issue has a flipside.  In the UK the best performing investment fund last year was a fully automated one.

For the sake of argument we don’t have to agree with the efficient markets hypothesis.  We are simply exploring its implication that alpha is zero and so human action cannot add to it.  Its assumption is that all information is reflected in the market price.  This implies that any alpha exits at all this is due to lack of information.  So if you throw enough computing power at the problem you will eliminate all such arbitrage opportunities as they chase down ever smaller pools of alpha.  This conclusion even survives a radically uncertain and unknowable future, for if this is so you have only beta and cannot by definition do better in the long run that an automated tracking fund.

Consider a hypothetical case of close to perfect competition where there are no resources charging economic rent.  I make one relaxation in this model, labour time, as time will always be scarce.  Assume then a random schedule of existing wealth endowments and these agents making portfolio decisions where they are less risk adverse the larger their wealth, and a similar random schedule of potential investments of varying returns and risks.  We assume an uncertain future but perfect information so each agent can accurately calculate risk rated returns.

In this scenario those agents with largest endowments will snap up the investments with the largest risk rated returns first.  So even if the economic outcome is random the law of large numbers indicates that over a sufficient large number of runs (if one adopts the ergodic fallacy) for over a sufficiently long length of time the rich will automatically get richer.  Those with less wealth will be forced to invest in alternatives with lower risk rated returns and earning a lower rate of profit.  There relative wealth will be less.

This only consider factor returns on capital invested, not returns to labour.  Anticipating a criticism that this model does not consider the gains from higher wages in the higher risk rated return investments lets consider this.

As the only scarce factor in this model is labour profits are equivalent to ‘longfield wages’ (after the economist who first made this point).  They are the interest costs on the labour payments made before the final consumer goods are delivered.  If the proportion on these profits are high then the residual proportion of wages must by definition fall so wages and profits equal unity.

This I think completely undermines Edwin Conards argument for the efficiency of extreme income inequality in his book ‘Unintended Consequences’.  The argument put simply is the rich do us a favour because big investments at big risks yield high returns.  Granted but if all shares in  investment funds were held equally but these funds were of different sizes and took a random series of positions on risk adversity the economic benefits (in this model) would be the same, except that all would benefit from them equally.

You could argue that the models assumptions are too strict and you should assume scaricty in one or more resources.  Doing so however allows for economic rent, returns to those who own land and the resources that come with them due to accidents of birth and for those people to take wealth from those that produced it rather than generating it.

Similarly it could be argued that wealth ought to accrue to those that study hard and gain skills.  Those that do so however need time and if they have limited endowments they will need to borrow.  So proportionately again the more the poor study the richer the rich will get.

The only argument remaining is that innovation improves wealth for all and therefore there should be incentives for innovation.  But firstly there is no empirical evidence that huge inequalities are necessary to generate innovation and wealth.  Counting patents is not a good measure of innovation.  Secondly a more equal society gives more opportunities for people to become better eductated hence raising innovation.

So the if justification of the 1% is that they are good at investment it is no justification at all.

Mayoral Candidate Lammy Raises Prospect of London Green Belt Loss

I missed this from the standard in October.  There is of course a third option, build beyond.

Successive mayors have argued that brownfield land — former industrial and commercial sites — is the answer. But it isn’t. There are around 4,000 hectares of brownfield land in London: enough to build just 20 per cent of the houses we will need over the next 20 years.

This means there are only two realistic options: build up or build out. The first of these — building up with tower blocks — should be approached with real caution. Ask people where they want to live and few will say the 14th floor. Ask people whether they want to live next door to a high-rise and the answer will be similarly negative.

The second option — building out — brings its own challenges. More homes on London’s outer ring would demand much better transport into the capital. But the biggest barrier here is political. Politicians of all sides are terrified of being accused of wanting to “pave over the countryside”. That’s why Boris Johnson is still bluffing about London’s “brownfield opportunity areas”.

Sooner or later we are going to have to face up to these choices. We should look at all options, including reclassifying parts of the green belt that do not live up to the name. People associate the green belt with woodland and open spaces but nearly a third is used for intensive farming.

Pursuing this option would mean smart thinking on transport — for example, by building new homes near existing stations. Different forms of financing will also have to be explored, from leveraging pension funds to borrow-to-build schemes for councils.

None of the options will be cheap, none will be easy and none will please everyone. But the price of doing nothing is too high. Just ask the young Londoners already paying it.

David Lammy is Labour MP for Tottenham. He is the chair of a new commission on housing in London hosted by the Royal Town Planning Institute.