Why the Government Will Have to Implement Letwin @oletwinofficial

Imagine a South East authority that faces a doubling or tripling of its OAN under the SOAN (whether 2014 based or more up to date) – to over 1,100 a year.  It gets 300 or so from windfalls and brownfield sites and needs another 800 or so.  Large sites in the South East rarely exceed 240 dwellings a year completions, it needs around 4 such sites.  Because of its geography it can only do one, so has to assume 4 simultaneous ‘points of sale’ in a rapid delivery model (perhaps involving modular construction)  where the rate of housebuilding would be such as to exceed the absorption rate, and probably push local house prices down (from what they otherwise would have been with economic growth) .  I.e. something a rational housebuilder/landowever would not do and as Letwin rightly concludes would be more likely done in a continental model of the local state buying land at a set value and then zoning it building infra, masterplanning, subdividing and selling.

This is not an unusual situation, though most dramatic in Green Belt areas in growth corridors and areas across England dramatic SOAN rises will be the norm given the 300,000 aspiration (which wont fully work its way up from 276,000 till the new iteration of SOAN next year).  If the government want to see completions anything like 276-300,000 anytime in the next 10 years, whether or not council housebuilding is promoted (which requires land to build on) , it requires such an approach to land assembly, planning, sale and construction.

If any ‘landowners rights’ reps like the CLA, or housebuilders or lawyers who specialise in protecting rentier income, have an alternative delivery model that will hit 300,000 I challenge them, and I cahllenge them to cost it in terms of how much the taxpayer would be expected to subisidse farmers and other landowners to make it work.  They wont because there would be a public outcry if they did.  Which is why Letwin – or something like it, under this prime minister or next is inevitable

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