Deputy director of the Adam Smith Institute, Sam Bowman, said:
The housing shortage does not exist because the private sector doesn’t want to build new homes – prices are rising rapidly, which signals demand is outstripping supply and there is profit to be made. The problem is that developable land is so scarce because the planning system makes it so.
Bowman argued that selling off public sector land would be a good idea, but if the private sector shows no interest in the land being sold, it’s a pretty clear indication it’s not somewhere people are particularly keen to live.
If the government then decides to build houses on the unsold land anyway, it would mean funneling taxpayers’ money into houses nobody wants to buy. The key to alleviating Britain’s housing shortage, says Bowman, is to liberalise the planning system and allow development in places where people actually want to live. In turn, that means “rolling back the green belt”.
No sites like Catford Greyhound Stadium have lain vacant for a decade because landowners hold them from the market, because of scarcity and speculation they consider the rewards will be greater because of higher prices in future years. Not because no one wants to live in London. What is the free market response to this. Those defending speculation would say that higher prices encourages more production and new market entrants – like hoarding what for example – but land is in fixed supply – it isnt produced- and that theory doesn’t work as new land is not produced. Ironically Adam Smith undrtood the non production of land – and the Adam Smith Institute does not.