Telegraph seizes on research from Mulheirn with Basic Errors to say we have ‘Too Much Housing’!!!!!

Telegraph – The Greenbelt must not be sacrificed for housing

The basic error in the Mulheirn Blogs – there are dozens and dozens in the Mulhairn blogs and the Refern review (which of course John Healy has ignored) – a box of wine buried does not add to the ‘supply’of housing – similarly houses of elderly in care, people temporarily moved abroad, in testate, second homes etc. are not part of supply – they are not for sale.

Similarly he makes the mirror of the economics – never argue from a price error – never argue from a quantity – household formation is suppressed when people have low incomes – such as during a depression and secular stagnation.  Its known as concealed households.  If you try and argue this at a LPI the inspector will throw the argument out.

The third error is an empty home in Oldham doesnt meet need in St Albans.  All housing need is local.  There is a name for this fallacy.

These factors are taken into account into EVERY SHMA and local plan inquiry – they are established in literature and government guidance on calculating housing need- basic GIGO.

Next week will see the publication of yet another housing White Paper designed to “get Britain building again”. Sajid Javid, the Communities Secretary, seeks to succeed where all of his predecessors have failed and hit the targets for the supply of new homes.

He needs to do this within certain political parameters. Mr Javid may be under pressure from many sides to abandon protection of the Green Belt but he cannot do this without reneging on a promise made by the Conservatives in their 2015 election manifesto. Moreover, the Conservatives have championed the idea of greater local democracy. It would, therefore, be at odds with that approach if he were to force councils to adopt development plans they do not want.

The good news is that from what we know Mr Javid does not propose to go down either of these routes. He intends that existing Green Belt protections should remain in place. His White Paper will, however, reiterate the current position that green belt land can be developed in exceptional circumstances or when there is local agreement. It has never been the case that the Green Belt cannot be built on; but it should take place within very strict limits. The Tory election manifesto stated categorically “The Green Belt is safe for another five years under a Conservative Government”. They must stick to that.

As to local democracy, councils are required to draw up plans for new house building if they are to avoid having them forced on them by planning presumptions. However, one problem is that many councils then fail to follow through on their stated aims. One question to be addressed by the White Paper is how they can be encouraged to do what they say.

A further area that must be better explored is the development of brownfield sites. The manifesto included a commitment to “prioritise brownfield development” and the White Paper needs to show how this can be achieved. The Home Builders Federation have proposed a “presumption in favour of residential development on appropriate brownfield sites” to replace the current system of “public sector-led solutions through brownfield registers”. This is worth exploring though it also has implications for local democracy. None the less, if more houses are needed then it would be better if they were built in areas where the infrastructure exists for a growing population rather than on greenfield sites where roads, schools, GP surgeries and the like need to be provided.

Mr Javid’s White Paper will almost certainly take as given the almost universally accepted assumption that not enough houses are being built to match the demand created by new household formation. But is this actually true? Ian Mulheirn of Oxford Economics argues that this approach is entirely based on Whitehall projections that have turned out to be wrong. He has compared the forecasts with the data for actual household formation and found that the apparent requirement for at least 200,000 new built homes every year is not borne out by the evidence. In other words, there is enough housing but there are major problems of distribution and of inflation in London, the South East and some other hot spots around the country.

A leafless tree stands lonely in a green field on green belt land in Brockworth, Gloucestershire
Green belt land in Brockworth, Gloucestershire CREDIT: JAY WILLIAMS

Mr Mulheirn’s evidence should at least be examined by ministers before they proceed. If there is no shortage of housing then other approaches are evidently needed to solve the problems of inadequate levels of social provision and rampant property price inflation. The latter is excluding many of our young people from the prospect of buying their own home until well into their middle age. Once upon a time, property ownership levels were higher in Britain than almost anywhere in Europe, but in recent years countries like France have overtaken us. It would be a betrayal of future generations not to address this – it is whether it can be done purely by building more houses on greenfield sites that is debatable.

One solution is to release more property currently underused by couples whose children have left home and now wish to move into a smaller house. Tax incentives to help them do so, such as an exemption from stamp-duty for downsizers, should be considered. Perhaps, too, private tenants of council-owned commercial property should have a right to buy and turn some of it to residential use. A judicious combination of sticks and carrots may well help unblock some of the sclerosis in the system preventing new building.

When the Government last tried to change the planning laws with the aim of increasing house building, this newspaper campaigned to retain our unique countryside and prevent the sort of development sprawl that has blighted so many other countries. Ministers listened then and we trust they will do so again.



Housing White Paper ‘Protections for the green belt are the same as in the manifesto’

All it said was ‘protect the Green Belt’ as I said at time the weakest manifesto conservative commitment ever on this.


Developers will be ordered to use planning permission or lose it under government plans to speed up the building of hundreds of thousands of new homes.

Ministers will next week publish proposals encouraging developers to build on plots more quickly rather than sit on land which has already been earmarked for new properties.

The Tories have promised to build one million new homes by 2020, but construction rates are running at below the level to hit that target.

Theresa May has made building more cheap affordable homes one of the cornerstones of her premiership and chairs the Cabinet committee to drive the policy personally.

However, protection for the green belt will not be watered down as ministers do not want to provoke a war with Tory councils, it is understood.


The Housing White Paper will target car parks near railway stations for new homes, will reserve sites for new prefabricated homes which are quicker to build and will allow taller homes to be built.

It is also expected to include measures to encourage smaller construction firms to break the stranglehold of the large housebuilders.

However, there will be no new threat to the green belt. One Government source said: “Protections for the green belt are the same as in the manifesto. There are no fears about the green belt.”

The White Paper – which is expected to be published on Tuesday – is anticipated to include new proposals to require developers to complete homes more quickly.

Currently builders lose planning permissions after three years unless work has started. However, they can maintain planning permissions on sites simply by “digging a trench”, sources said. This means that more than 700,000 homes which have been granted planning permission since 2006 are yet to be built.

Under the new plans permission would be linked to the completion of homes by certain dates, rather than the starting of work.

Developers could have to build quotas of homes by set deadlines as a condition of receiving the planning permission, or be let off paying for new local roads, bridges and community halls – so called Section 106 agreements – if they complete the new homes more quickly.

A report last year by Civitas, a think-tank, disclosed how developers and landowners used a controversial relaxation of planning rules in 2012 to hoard planning permits rather than build more homes.

More than two million planning permits were issued between 2006 and 2015 – a rate which would be enough to build an average of 204,000 new homes a year but foundations were only laid on 1.3 million of them

Daniel Bentley, editorial director at Civitas, said councils had approved more than 200,000 homes a year for the past four years, and yet last year there were still only 164,000 new-build completions.

He said: “This would be a really bold step by ministers and suggests they are not prepared to tiptoe around developers anymore – for too long planning permissions have been granted with no obligation to build.

“This has meant that landowners and developers have been able to secure huge windfalls and then maximise their profits still further by drip-feeding new homes into the market at the highest prices they can.”

Campaigners welcomed the plans. Rick Hebditch,a spokesman forthe National Trust, said: “There are positive signs that the Government has shifted away from blaming the planning system for housing problems.

“People need homes but we need a well-resourced planning system to ensure they’re good quality and in the right places.”

Shaun Spiers, chief executive of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said: “Too few homes are being built, but this isn’t because of a failure of the planning system or a lack of land.

“It is because the big builders would rather build slowly on greenfield land than build quickly on the many suitable brownfield sites across the country.

“It is good that ministers understand this and are willing to put some pressure on developers to raise their game.”

Alex Morton, a former housing and planning adviser to David Cameron when he was prime minister, said: “Tory MPs and councillors get angry when they see permissions going up but housing starts rising slowly. If done this must be implemented sensitively.”

Steve Turner, a spokesman for the Home Builders’ Federation, said it was sensible to tie in the interests of the builders and local authorities when planning permission was granted.

This would stop local authorities granting planning permissions for too many homes on smaller sites to hit housing targets set by central Government.

David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, added: “We look forward to seeing more detail on this and welcome measures to speed up build-out rates in the private sector.

“The sooner the homes the nation needs are built the better but this must not be at the expense of affordable housing.”

A spokesman for the Department of Communities and Local Government said: “We’ve been clear that house builders need to deliver more homes, and our White Paper due out shortly will set out clearly our plans to increase build out rates.”

At the Conservative party conference four months ago, Sajid Javid, the Communities Secretary, said he would take action to force big housing companies to build more homes more quickly.

He said: “The big developers must release their stranglehold on supply. It’s time to stop sitting on land banks and stop delaying build-out. The homebuyers must come first”.