I come bearing the gift of Industrial Estates thrown out of London

It is interesting seeing Jules Pipe offer of exporting industrial land from London to its neighbours.

Whats in it for the receivers?

Well presumably that the land in London redeveloped would be higher density and smaller in area than if the housing overspill were met in ROSE.

However if authority’s were to treat GB as a constraint then it would only be shire districts beyond the GB.  Industrial workers being low paid are not going to reverse commute out of London for 60 miles.

So it would only make sense if part of planned relocation from London to new Garden Cities.

South Oxfordshires Nimby leader Stuffs Oxfordshire Housing Deal

BBC Oxon

Plans to build thousands of homes to deal with Oxford’s housing crisis have been rejected by a district council leader.

South Oxfordshire was earmarked to build nearly 5,000 of 15,000 homes needed for the city by 2031.

John Cotton, the leader of South Oxfordshire District Council, said the plans were “an ambition too far”.

Campaigners meanwhile have demanded the public be given more of a say.

The Oxfordshire Growth Board, made up of council leaders, met to approve plans to deal with the city’s housing need identified in a 2014 report.

The Oxfordshire Strategic Housing Market Assessment said neighbouring councils needed to provide 14,850 houses to help Oxford cope with its increasing demand.

Oxford would look to build another 550 houses, while Cherwell would contribute 4,400, Vale of White Horse 2,200, West Oxfordshire 2,750, and South Oxfordshire would build 4,950.

All voted to approve the plans except South Oxfordshire, whose leader said the number was too high and questioned Oxford’s efforts.

“We are not convinced the city has done all it can to meet its own need,” Mr Cotton said.

Campaigners have accused the board of ploughing ahead with “undemocratic” plans.

David Illingworth, from North Abingdon Local Plan Group, said: “We believe there is an alternative vision for the future of our county, not based on forced economic growth at all costs but focusing on meeting local people’s real needs.”

Negotiations are set to continue to try to agree a figure for South Oxfordshire.

London’s Density Matrix is Long Overdue for Replacement

The London Plan density matrix is over twenty years old and in that time has only had two minor review in 2006 and 2012

Yet since as early as 2006 the majority of new housing in London has had developments well above the matrix ranges?

It does little to help developers.  Lets say you own an úrban’ site in PTAL5.  So you can get 45-260 DPA depending on dwelling size, a huge range.  In some cases where context is important developers will bid too much for land and it will squeeze out affordable housing.  In less constrained sites developers might be able to get away with 300-500 DPA in actuality making the matrix a mockery.

The matrix derives from the 2003 SRQ report.  This illustrated a number of housing typologies that could be designed to high quality.  It was not based on a study of actual London fabrix – it was a low cost report – but case studies.

This approach has fallen well behind contemporary best practice in ‘bulk zoning’that is the planning for how much bulk of development per site, area and city.

Contemporary approaches:

  • Examine the overall zoned capacity of a city
  • Zone ás of right’ in the highest potential areas – see for example the recent initiatives of the California Governor or the recent pamphlet by the White House on this issue.
  • Study the existing range of building typologies in the city and the potential for soft intensification like accessory dwellings (banned in London as ”garden grabbing’ – without realistic controls allowing them we simply get beds in sheds)
  • Zone for acceptable forms, including where this would intensify existing areas, identifying areas for uplift – see for example Torontos policy on Medium Density Avenues.
  • Policy to secure quality at density like the Superdensity report are important but they are complimentary not replacements for being able to secure a certain bulk as of right
  • It is much better to control bulk through floorsapce, or at a pinch hab rooms, rather than number of dwelling – as this disincentivises a good mix of units sizes.

In short the revised London Plan needs to do four things

  1.  On large sites including housing zones it should zone for high density as of right
  2. It should identify areas for uplift. including around stations and along bus corridors with outdated shopping areas
  3. It should identify low density public housing estates not suitable for conservation (Lambeth im looking at you) and zone them for high density as of right, major opportunities such as Tahmemead should be positively masterplanned as a strategic priority.  There should be a policy of no net loss of social housing.
  4. Some of teh duller low density private areas should be zoned for uplift as of right, large parts of Havering and Hillingdon would fit in this category.  There should be density bonuses for assembly 2 or more units and a London Plan policy to approve CPOs on hold outs by dwellings where it prevents larger comprehensive schemes.

Obama Administration Says Zoning Reform a Priority


The Obama Administration is calling on cities and towns to reform land-use regulations to allow denser development by right while recommending actions that new urbanists have long supported.

The administration released a “toolkit” on housing development that recommends eliminating off-street parking requirements and allowing accessory dwelling units.

The toolkit also calls for more “high-density and multifamily zoning,” “streamlining or shortening permitting processes and timelines,” and allowing “by-right development,” which are consistent with many form-based codes and new urban reforms.

Antiquated land-use regulations, often dating from the 1970s or earlier, are holding back economic growth and increasing housing costs across America, says the administration.

“Significant barriers to new housing development can cause working families to be pushed out of the job markets with the best opportunities for them, or prevent them from moving to regions with higher—paying jobs and stronger career tracks. Excessive barriers to housing development result in increasing drag on national economic growth and exacerbate income inequality,” the report says.

On the other hand, “Cities like Chicago, Seattle, Sacramento, and Tacoma and states like California and Massachusetts have already begun to foster more affordable housing opportunities by removing restrictions, implementing transit-oriented-oriented zoning ordinances, and speeding up permitting and construction processes,” according to the Housing Development Toolkit.

The report marks a first—at least going back several decades—that the White House has made local zoning and land-use regulations a national issue.

“City zoning battles usually are fought block by block, and the president’s involvement will create friction, particularly among environmental groups and the not-in-my-backyard crowd,” notes a Politico report. “But the White House jawboning is welcome news to many others, including mayors and builders increasingly foiled by community opposition to development.”

The report is backed up by a fiscal year 2017 budget proposal to spend $300 million on Local Housing Policy Grants to help cities modernize housing regulatory approaches. However, the Administration’s lame duck status means budget priorities could radically change with whoever is elected in November.

Nevertheless, land-use reform could win support across the political spectrum—from mayors and smart growth advocates to developers and pro-business groups.

“It’s important that the president is talking about it,” Mark Calabria, director of financial regulation studies at the Cato Institute, told Politico. “Local restrictions on housing supply are a crucial economic issue. I would say it’s one of the top 10.”

In addition to previously mentioned priorities, the Toolkit recommends:

· Taxing vacant land or donate it to non-profit developers

· Establishing density bonuses

· Employing inclusionary zoning

· Establishing development tax  or value capture incentives

· Using property tax abatements

The Small Sites Myth

Christine Whitehead has been peddling an old misconception that to counter the fall in the proportion of homes built by small builders the planning system should focus on many small sites rather than a few large ones.  The opposite is true.

  • Eras when small builders have been more important have been larger are eras when the total number of houses built has been larger
  • But the causation runs the other way eras with large housebuilding have been eras with more large sites like new towns and major council estates – try hitting 600 dpa per lpa without large sites
  • When large housebuilders concentrate on large sites there is less monopolistic competition by small builders for small sites
  • Large housebuilders have muscled in on small sites with their countyside homes divisions
  • When the state built large site there was less drip feeding of new housing
  • The Sedgefield method perversely disincentivises large sites and so reduced overall numbers
  • On the continent large sites are owned and subdivided by local authorities and then sold to many small builders – so the problem is not large sites but the oligopolistic structure of the housing industry.
  • Affordable housing thresholds produce grater profits for smaller sites and a flow of investment away from larger sites
  • The costs of infrastructure are hidden and borne by society for small sites again disincentivising investment in large sites

The Only Way out of the Romer Conundrum is to Dump Wicksells Rocking Horse

A great deal of discussion on the blogosphere about Paul Romers paper critical of neoclassical modelling.

Heres the diplomatic authorised version

Once macroeconomists concluded that it was reasonable to invoke an imaginary forcing variables, they added more. The resulting menagerie, together with my suggested names now includes:

A general type of phlogiston that increases the quantity of consumption goods produced by given inputs

– An “investment-specific” type of phlogiston that increases the quantity of capital goods produced by given inputs

-A troll who makes random changes to the wages paid to all workers

-A gremlin who makes random changes to the price of output

-Aether, which increases the risk preference of investors

-Caloric, which makes people want less leisure.

I think much of the discussion has reverted to catalogs of why people don’t like DGSE models rather than the implicit criticism of modelling startegies based on ímaginary forcing variables’creating ”shocks”.  The kind of models now dominant in ALL modelling approaches derived from real business cycle models including New Keynsian.

All of these models are based on a parable of equilibrium based on Wicksell’s Rocking Horse model.  We now know this to be mathematically false, so why don’t we just replace it?

His famous quote from 1918

“If you hit a rocking horse with a stick, the movement of the horse will be very different from the stick. The hits are the cause of the movement, but the system’s own equilibrium laws condition the form of movement”

Wicksells model was one of damped equilibrium.  In nature equilibrium is a state of rest, so a pendulum for example will eventually stopped swinging.  So the only way to make the rocking horse rock is to hit it with a stick.

So equilibrium models based on this framework cannot explain business cycles.  This was a real problem for early theorists who tried to explain business cycles endogenously.

Take for example Marx, whose verbal model in Capital IIexplained cycles as a combination of ‘lags’in replacement of fixed capital and wages caused by changes to profits.  He tried to explain it mathematically but gave up (letter to Engels 1872) as it was beyond his mathematical abilities.

Kalecki took up the investment part in his celebrated business cycle model, in Essay on the Business Cycle Theory 1933.   Clearly influenced by Marx but expressed in clear form as difference equations.

This was criticized by Ragnar Frisch

“The Characteristic Solutions of a Mixed Difference and Differential Equation Occurring in Economic Dynamics”, with H. Holme, 1935, Econometrica

Essentially this is Wicksell’s rocking horse rendered mathematically.  To keep the horse rocking there had to be periodic ‘shocks’- the cycle could not be endogenous.

But we now know this to be false.  Slutsky (1927) showed how periodic cycles could be explained by small variations in endogenous variables.  He had provided the maths that was beyond Marx.  We now of course have a much richer mathematical toolkit of teh regions of stability that generate limit cycles, those that create damped occilations and those that lead to shifts in attractors and chaos.  This has barely penetrated post grad economics which still uses a discredited 8- year old set of equations.

Where the economics profession – following Lucas – got it wrong was to take Slutskys proof that random variations can generate cycles – which became the ‘stochastic’part of DGSE from his wider demonstration that ANY endogenous change can generate cycles – which takes us to endogenous theories of the business cycle – the path of Marx, Hawtry, Kalecki and Kaldor.   You can ‘fit’a series of waves to explain a graph of past data, but that is the same technique a DX9 synthesizer uses Fourier synthesis to generate waves that simulate instruments.  A DX9 programmed to simulate the noise of a flute is not a flute.  Slutsky himself used the example of rainfall falling over many days influencing crop yields and criticised ‘spurious’statistical correlations.

Over time emphasis in business cycle theory has shifted between ímpulse’ and ‘propigation'(socks – the hitting of the rocking horse) – but the underlying assumption that shocks are necessary to ensure propagation.

To get away from models where change is generated by philosogen and chaloric we have to abandon the  assumption that what drives cycles is outside the model.  To get a rocking horse to rick requires energy, and how much it swings depends on its centre of mass.  The economy is much more like a powered rocking horse where its centre of gravity is subject to rare but violent shifts to new equilibria.


Protecting Nightime Economy Requires a change in Noise Law

Evening Standard

A historic West End cinema is facing closure in a row over soundproofing for flats being built above.

Noise from films played at Curzon in Mayfair can be heard on the two floors above, according to the developers of the properties, which are likely to fetch more than £2 million each.

Developers 38 Curzon Ltd are converting office space into four flats above the cinema’s home since 1934 on Curzon Street, where star-studded film premieres are regularly held.

But they want the cinema to foot the £500,000 bill for soundproofing work, which the Curzon cannot afford and would “never obtain approval for as the auditorium and surrounding walls are listed”, according to its director of cinema development Rob Kenny.

The deadlock has resulted in a legal “action for forfeiture”, meaning the cinema faces surrendering its lease and vacating the building.

Exactly the kind of case Sadiq Khan is trying to tighten Policy on

Khan proposes to protect bars and clubs from being closed down over noise complaints by introducing the “agent of change” principle, which would place the cost of soundproofing on housing developers rather than venues. “This is a simple measure but will have a massive effect on smaller, independent bars and clubs who often aren’t able to afford the costs involved,” he said.

But that isn’t enough for two reasons.  Firstly change of uses to offices could be PD, secondly the resident could complain of a statutory noise nuisance.

The change requires a change to the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to place the burden of remedying a statutory nuisance on the agent of change, i.e. the residential developer,

Oxfordshire Districts Close to Agreeing Housing Numbers

Oxfordshire CC  essentially a copy of the Cambridgeshire process

A proposed solution for the delivery of Oxford’s unmet housing need involving an apportionment to each district is to be discussed by the Oxfordshire Growth Board on September 26th.

The results of the Oxfordshire Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) published in 2014 established the overall housing need for each district planning area. The councils in Oxfordshire generally agree that Oxford City is not able to fully accommodate its need within its boundaries. Government requires neighbouring areas to cooperate in such circumstances and an agreement was reached that assistance would be needed from other districts in Oxfordshire to meet Oxford’s unmet need. Senior officers for all of Oxfordshire’s councils set up a programme of work to address this issue.

The Oxfordshire Growth Board will meet to agree a proposed apportionment of 15,000 homes but will not make decisions on where in each district housing growth will go. Each Local Planning Authority has the responsibility of doing this in their Local Plans. The Growth Board will consider a body of jointly produced work with a view to reaching a cooperative agreement on how Oxford’s unmet housing need should be distributed across the county. This work has involved consideration of the level of unmet housing need, the sustainability of broad growth options, a study of the Green Belt, transport and infrastructure issues.

The report to be presented on Sept 26 recommends that the Growth Board:

  • approve the apportionment of the agreed working figure for the unmet housing need for Oxford
  • approve a Memorandum of Co-operation setting out the apportionment and timetable for delivery of the unmet housing need for Oxford
  • formally recommend the approved apportionment to each of the Oxfordshire Local Planning Authorities for consideration in the preparation of their Local Plans, in the interest of meeting the objectively assessed housing needs for Oxfordshire.

Cllr Ian Hudspeth, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council and Chair of the Oxfordshire Growth Board, said:

“It is a well-known fact that housing is a major issue in Oxfordshire, with no easy answers, so it’s important that we all work together to consider the housing needs of the county in the context of economic growth.

“The Oxfordshire Growth Board enables local government and representatives from education, transport and local business to focus on resolving county-wide issues such as housing in a co-ordinated and sustainable way.

“It is welcome news that the Oxfordshire Growth Board now has a comprehensive, county-wide evidence base which is needed to consider a fair and sustainable way to share Oxford’s housing needs beyond the Oxford boundary.”

Notes to editors

Item 15 of ‘Oxfordshire Growth Board Post SHMA Strategic Work Programme’ report

The recommended apportionment is as follows:


Shortlisted ‘green’ areas of search













The Oxfordshire Growth Board is a joint committee of the six councils of Oxfordshire, set up to facilitate and enable joint working on economic development, strategic planning and growth. It does this by:

  • advising on matters of collective interest, to seek agreement on local priorities and influence relevant local, regional and national bodies
  • overseeing the delivery of projects that the councils of Oxfordshire are seeking to deliver collaboratively in the fields of economic development and strategic planning and those agreed in the City Deal and Local Growth Deals that fall to the councils, working collaboratively, to deliver and has an overall responsibility to manage these programmes of work alongside the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP).

The meetings are administered and hosted on a rota basis and currently Oxfordshire County Council is the hosting authority.

The Oxfordshire Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) was commissioned jointly by all the Oxfordshire district councils supported by Oxfordshire County Council and published in 2014. It was a technical study intended to help the Oxfordshire local planning authorities understand how many homes will be needed in the period 2011 – 2031. It also considers the housing needs of specific groups such as older people, minority groups and people with disabilities and what housing growth will be needed to support the economy.