Two dramatic charts in the Telegraph today comparing identical 13 year periods of Tory and Labour government and showing the similar records of failure on housebuilding where burst bubbles undid all of the good work of the previous decade – or worse in the case of Major.
What lessons does history teach us.
1. Both administrations relaxed the plan led system at precisely the top of the cycle, disastrously, the Tories in 1988 with a speech hat said local plans were just ‘one of the material considerations’ and Brown after the Barker review in 2007 in the review of PPG3. This contributed to a bubble of speculative supply outstripping the ability of credit to support mortgages at then speculatively inflated house prices – pop.
2. In the good years both labour and conservatives boosted housebuilding through centrally driven regional planning reviews. In Brown’s case through RSS, and Thatchers through Ridleys raising of SERPLAN and other regional conference housing targets.
3. After busts Both labour and conservatives recovered supply with boosts to public sector housing investment, Brown slightly more than Major.
Did Cameron learn any of these lessons, no, in the case of 2 and 3 he did precisely the opposite with predictable results. We saw a collapse in housebuilding to the worst levels on 780 yearss. On 1 there was a partial lessons learned in that plans were relaxed at the bottom of the cycle, but it has not been much tightened towards the top so is exacerbating a bubble. No party since teh 70ps has been able to busrt thjrough and sustinan building at >20o,000 homes, and the Boles bubble is no exception. All the relaxation did was partially offset the collapse in housebuilding from not learning lessons 2 and 3. It simply resulted in oversupply where it was most speculatively demanded (villages) and not needed (more affordable locations accessible to jobs in and near major towns), worsening the housing policy failure cycle which will see history repeating itself in tragedy after the next election whowever wins it.