Boles Just Doesn’t Get Why Custom Build Works on the Continent

Re his well flagged speech today – surely written for him by Alex Morton.

They don’t get why for example France and Germany manage to build around twice as many houses per capita than we do as why custom build in these countries is around 5 times larger pro-rata, hence the solution (privatize local authority landbanks) is precisely the opposite of what needs to be done.

There are two reasons for their success:

1.  They have a zoning and subdivision based system with development control as an adjunct 

We have the opposite with ‘plan led’ now an historic term.  The reasons why custom build is a success here and in Canada and globally is primarily because of the zoning and subdivision system rather than custom build per se which only has a secondary impact.  Once land is zoned and a masterplan approved to subdivide it (Boles seems to not know this is always needed even in the worst third world planning regimes to below which the UK system has now regressed).  It is the zoning and subdivision based system which causes the larger number of completions as land is broken up into smaller parcels according to demand and therefore smaller builders (including but not necessarily custom build) can respond, and larger developers have the confidence they need to raise development finance without having to design every last thing first.  Boles and Morton have confused cause and effect, custom build is the consequence of the planning system, a system which can scale much better than our own, not a cause in itself.

2.  Public Agencies Buys Land at Existing land use value, approve master plans  then sell plots off with agreed build programmes

Rather than selling off what little it has at a loss which is Boles and Morton’s proposal.  They just don’t get it.  Read the excellent recent KPMG report for Shelter The Homes We need international best practice in land assembly for housing – which the world copied from development corporations and Garden Cities in England – which we then forgot about.

A quote

the dutch government’s vIneX programme, which started in the 1990s and lasted over 15 years, took an ‘active land’ approach to the development of 90 urban extensions.122 operating under a national spatial framework that identified towns for growth, local authorities formed development corporations, often
as joint venture partnerships with private investors or developers. these corporations took the lead on assembling new sites, while central government and a municipal bank provided funding to make land purchases and decontaminate brownfield land. the basic principle was that by acquiring land at or close to its existing use value (typically agricultural value) the development corporation could use the value uplift resulting from planning permission to fund the necessary infrastructure such as roads, schools and food defenses. the development corporation would then prepare the master plan for the area before selling plots to developers and custom builders.

Similar in France, Germany etc. etc.  So why dont they get it?  Too communitarian and interventionist for their ideology I think.  A plan from half baked lapped up by half brain.

Note:  I refuse on principle to use the ridiculous term ‘development management’ which in every other country in the world means management of the development process.


One thought on “Boles Just Doesn’t Get Why Custom Build Works on the Continent

  1. Pingback: A Shift to a Zoning and Subdivision System for Brownfield is the big News in Productivity Plan | Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

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