Shifting Housing Targets from the South to the North will just mean shifting Greenfield Housing from South to North and hitting Red Wall Seats

What happens if you shift the math in the standard method so that there would be more housing in places like the Midlands and the North. One way suggested by some to do this would be to remove the affordability uplift, insisted by the treasury, so that you no longer targeted more houses in places with high job growth and productivity and hence high house prices.

The assumption seems to be that there is a vast mass of deliverable brownfield sites in the North and Midlands that would be built out.

It wouldnt lead to any more houses being built on brownfield sites in the North and would just lead to a collapse in housing targets nationally. Let me explain.

Firstly the ‘urban uplift’ has had the opposite of its intended effect, outside London the vast majority of affected cities had already in emerging local plans maxxed out their brownfield deliverable and developable capacity. The urban uplift has used that up so cities like Sheffield and Derby now have to look at major Greenfield expansion. The only place with headroom was Liverpool. But Liverpool was already proposing housing numbers above its method so until those numbers are built out new net new actual houses will be built. This will occur in many midlands/northern towns like Doncaster which have ‘jobs led’ rather than housing led targets. So the net effect of moving numbers from Southern Towns to midlands/northern towns will be less housing being built and planned for in the South and less than the loss of houses being planned for in the South being planned for and built in the South.

The impact of such a change would be to shift numbers up to the satellite towns and remoter rural around major cities which arn’t already planning jobs led growth (mainly Labour Towns btw. Their is a name for these places the media uses doesn’t it, errrr the Red Wall. Im sure Nat Litch and Turleys are whirring there famous spreadhseets as we speak so look at the impact of such a putative policy.

So it seems Govy has invented a ‘red wall uplift’ designed to maximise development of Greenfield housing in precisely the seats the conservatives have to win. Bravo what a political genius he is. If you dont think there would be a backlash look at the protests around Greater Manchester and th near collapse of the Greater Manchester Plan.

The standard method is not sacrosanct. I was always uncomfortable with it drifting from being a purely objective demographically based number. If growth areas need more houses that is a matter for strategic and regional planning. If poorer areas need funding to build needed houses that arnt viable that should be the purpose of spatially focuused regional policy. What is clear though is that quick dumb fixes like the urban uplift and the talked about ‘red wall uplift’ are likely just to shift the places where NIMBYs wave there placards and where Nimbys stop voting tory. Cant cant ever deal with NIMBYs by playing there game, which ultimately would be a policy of people not existing, or as the times suggested some MPs had suggested that Northerners should stop coming down South (Givy you should have stayed in Aberdeen mate as your demanding a Greenfield home in Surrey now – your an immigrant, did you say freedom of movement?).

So you cant base policy on the margin of voters that Nimby floating voters, you have to base it on where you can gain votes on floating younger housing deprived voters.

Johnson’s Planning u-turn will cost the Tories: The Times

James Forsyth Times de paywalled

Ditching the promise of more homes is the ultimate political short termism and will accelerate calls for a mansion tax

Before Covid shut down politics, Boris Johnson was determined to push through planning reform and create more homes — and more homeowners. There was to be a particular focus on getting more homes built where property was least affordable. In other words, the southeast. Now that aim has been abandoned.The Tory conference was bookended by reassurances to the party faithful that the government has given up on this idea. The new party chairman Oliver Dowden communicated the message as he opened the conference on Sunday and Johnson rammed it home as he closed it on Wednesday.It is a quite spectacular volte-face. Back in the spring, Johnson was privately lambasting “not in my backyard” Tory backbenchers. Couldn’t they see, he fumed, that their very survival depends on more people owning homes? Surely it’s obvious that the Tory party’s survival is at stake?Now he is doing everything he can to assuage southern Tory voters that their views will not be “desecrated by ugly new homes”. In one of those Johnsonian contradictions, he did so while extolling the joys of home ownership. A joy which, without the new houses, will be strictly rationed for those in the southeast.This is the after-effect of the Chesham & Amersham by-election, in which the Liberal Democrats attacked the planning reforms relentlessly and took the seat from the Tories on a 25 per cent swing. Other Tory MPs looked on in horror, thinking: we’ll be next for the chop.There were easily enough Tory rebels to force ministers to dilute their original proposals for cutting councils out of some planning decisions. In a precursor to this week’s shift, the cabinet reshuffle saw the pro-reform Robert Jenrick sacked. He’s been replaced by Michael Gove, a Surrey MP and therefore very aware of how disgruntled some part of the Tory base had become. (The May elections saw the Tory majority on Surrey county council slashed from 40 to 12.)The Tories will pay little electoral price for this U-turn. Indeed, at the next general election they will probably benefit from it. The “blue wall” will be a bit more secure if the Tories’ opponents can’t use planning to chip away at it. Johnson has no desire to court unpopularity. One cabinet minister jokes that the prime minister “counts out his opinion poll lead every morning like a miser”.In a sign of how Chesham & Amersham spooked the Tories, they are now going out of their way to explain how “levelling up” will benefit the south. If more northerners are in good jobs and paying lots of tax, runs the argument, southern taxpayers won’t have to take up such a large part of burden. And fewer northerners will come south looking for work. A few senior Tories have come perilously close to suggesting that southerners should be in favour of levelling up as it will keep northerners in the north.Planning was one problem too many. There are, after all, a slew of others with no easy fix. Ministers are anxiously poring over long-range weather forecasts trying to work out if La Nina will hit this year, causing a cold snap here that might further exacerbate the gas crisis. Some factories may have to down tools if energy prices make production unprofitable. The effect on the UK, which is largely a services economy, would not be as bad as in countries with more manufacturing. But it would still hit an already weakening recovery.Then, there is inflation. Johnson has been dismissive but other members of the cabinet are increasingly worried. One secretary of state predicts it will be at 6 per cent by the end of the year, three times the Bank of England’s target. In these circumstances one can see why the government has been so inclined to drop a policy that could have harmed them at the polls in 2023 or 2024.But it is still a mistake. The capricious and unpredictable planning system is a significant constraint on economic growth. With money too tight for tax cuts, planning reform would have given a free stimulus to the economy. The government may now blanche at the idea of developing the south, but such development is needed no matter how well “levelling up” goes.Of the best dozen universities in the world, three are in the golden triangle of London, Oxford and Cambridge. The government is set to increase research funding and economic output around Oxford and Cambridge could double between now and 2050 to over £200 billion. But this won’t happen unless the necessary infrastructure is in place. House prices in Cambridge are 16 times the average salary — up from four and a half times in 1997. It is hard to believe there won’t have to be significantly more development in rural Cambridgeshire.This is particularly the case given the government’s dismissal of remote working. Johnson is right to think that office time is key to young people’s professional development, but he must accept that they will need to live near their work.In political terms, the Tories’ new approach is a mistake too. It might not hurt them at the next election, or even the one after that. But ultimately the Tories are the party of the property-owning democracy, and live and die by this. Just look at what has happened in London. When Margaret Thatcher left office, home ownership for households headed by a 35 to 44-year-old in the capital was over two-thirds, and the Tories held two-thirds of the seats. Now, less than half of that age group owns a home and the Tories have only just over a quarter of the seats.Owning a home is one of the things that makes people more likely to vote Tory. It is no coincidence that home ownership in the “red wall” seats is above the national average. If the age of the first-time buyer continues to rise that will exacerbate the Tories’ demographic problems. And if house prices in the southeast rise ever higher, pushing home ownership further beyond the reach of more and more people, the popularity of a mansion tax will only grow. If you have no hope of living in a mansion, why shouldn’t you want them taxed till the floorboards squeak?By abandoning any serious attempt to significantly increase the number of homes being built in the southeast the Tories are alienating their future electorate for an easier time with their current voters. It is the ultimate in political short termism.James Forsyth is political editor of The Spectator

The Four Tried and Failed Fallacies of Gove’s New Approach to Planning

Telegraph

A source close to Mr Gove said he was committed to hitting the Government’s target of building 300,000 new homes a year in the middle of this decade.

One source said: “He is in listening mode and we have been talking to backbenchers. Our focus is definitely on brownfield sites.”

One new idea is to replace these growth zones, where development would be largely unrestricted, with smaller growth sites to avoid a risk of a “Manhattanization” in some towns and suburbs, where they become heavily developed.

The Telegraph disclosed last month that 61 Tory MPs had signed a letter to Mr Gove and the Prime Minister asking that the Planning Bill is given pre-legislative scrutiny before it is formally introduced in Parliament.

Allowing this “pre-legislative scrutiny” would show that ministers are open to finding a middle ground when the proposals are discussed. This request was made directly to Mr Gove at the meeting with rebel MPs last month.

Some facts

There is no evidence that regeneration in the north will reduce housing demand in the South. Recovery in the north reduces outmigration and increase immigration , but it also boosts household formation and wealth in the north and upskilled and higher wage people in levelled up areas will now have more ability to move south for jobs in the South so long as wages and productivity are higher there, which they will be for decades. Also more housebuilding in north is more houses for retirees from the south to move into. Shifting housing targets between functional economic area is a bad idea from John Prescot which first led to the massive escalation of house prices in the 90s as the pressure was taken off on building in the South. It tried and was proven to fail.

Brownfield First. Well again the policy was tried and failed as it just throttled supply and eas badly and unworkably drafted. About two years brownfield supply for South East. You cant meet Woking’s housing need in Hull. Even if you took all the nations brownfields it meets only around 2 million houses out of a need for around 15 million over 15 years. Even by CPRE’s most optimistic figures it doesn’t work.

No Manhattan’s. If course if you want every city to look like Manhattan you go for Brownfield only – just look at Leeds. This seems to be an idea ive heard every now and again from Tory housing spokes people that if only you built a few homes in villages everywhere you don’t need these new towns and large sites. Problem is it doesn’t work. I’ve done the numbers on this blog on many posts over 15 years. It means the typical rural tory authority doubling the size of every village in 15 years -political suicide. I did the numbers for Stratford District for example. A developer printed the numbers for every village for every resident and the political backlash led to members almost instantly switching from a dispersed strategy (which they had introduced away from a concentrated one because of opposition in Stratford) back to one of concentration and even adding a Garden Community. Always the political pain will be less, and far more sustainable, from Garden Communities strategies. The fact that Gioe even thinks and uses terms such as ‘Manhattenisation’ shows how ill informed and still ill read in his brief he is.

Also in growth zones or sites whatever you call them if planning schemes/permission in principle survived development would not be restricted and the draft bill would not im sure have proposed that. Rather you can restrict heights or any design parameter through parameter plans and design codes. You you want to see an example of failure see the millions of houses built without a proper zoning system driven by good masterplanning on the continent. Of course Give hates anything European (blaming them for everything) – like regional investment, more housebuilding, better design, zero carbon new developments, better cycling provision etc. etc. So I doubt he will listen to evidence or sense.

So don’t panic that the Uber Nimby’s and the CPRE see a tiny chink of light and reveal there real agenda, which is not just to reduce housebuilding but almost eliminate it, even from past permissions. Reality will hot ministers in the face and we will get yet another u turn in a couple of years time.

‘Build Back Beaver’ Boris’s Cranky Speech on ‘Jamming Homes in the South East’ Leads to the Nimby Whats App Gang of Mps demanding permission is withdrawn for 200,000 Greenfield Houses

His conference speech

beavers that have not been seen on some rivers since tudor times

 massacred for their pelts

and now back

and if that isn’t conservatism, my friends I don’t know what is

build back beaver

and though the beavers may sometimes build without local authority permission

you can also see how much room there is

to build the homes that young families need in this country

not on green fields

not just jammed in the south east

but beautiful homes on brownfield sites

in places where homes make sense

This is nit a comedy turn at a joky after dinner speech testing gags for the next Telegraoh Column.

It had an immediate effect

Telegraph

Ministers are under pressure to tell councils to withdraw planning permission for nearly 200,000 homes on greenfield sites after Boris Johnson announced that new homes will be built on previously developed land.

The Prime Minister announced in his party conference speech that “beautiful homes” should in future be built only “on brownfield sites in places where homes make sense”. [no he dudnt see quote above]

Glenigan, the construction industry experts, said that nearly half of the 408,000 undeveloped plots of land which had planning permission in England in August – 187,000 homes – were planned for greenfield land where work is yet to start.

On Thursday night, Tory MP Bob Seely, who led a backbench rebellion against the planning reforms, told The Telegraph that the Government should now ensure that uneconomic developments on greenfield sites should now be pulled.

He said that ministers should order a halt to development on “greenfield, the economics of which do not stack up, but which have been given planning permission”.

Mr Seely cited as one example the Pennyfeathers development for 900 homes in his Isle of Wight constituency, which has been criticised because of the pressure it will put on local roads.

Tories demand action

The demand will be one of several in a letter to the Prime Minister which is being drawn up by Tories concerned by planning reforms in the wake of Mr Johnson’s speech on Wednesday.

The MPs are also likely to demand that Mr Johnson’s “brownfield only” policy is written into the new Planning Bill, which is currently being redrawn by Michael Gove, the new Housing Secretary.

Theresa Villiers, a former Cabinet minister, said: “The PM’s comments on planning in his speech are great, but if they are to have a real impact we need to see new protections for green fields added to planning law.

“And we also need housing targets reduced in the South to stem the flood of high-rise, high-density development, which is creating immense pressure in commuter areas.”

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) warned there were a further 340,000 new homes planned for greenfield sites in green belt and areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONB), which had not been given formal planning permission.

It warned of “unnecessary greenfield development that would take place between Oxford and Cambridge unless the Government radically changes its approach”.

‘Tip of the iceberg’

Paul Miner, head of land use and planning at CPRE, said: “These 187,000 houses with planning permission are the tip of the iceberg.

“There are currently 340,000 houses planned on our green belts and AONBs, never mind greenfield sites.

“We call on the Government to agree to a meaningful brownfield first policy urgently and to make it a central pillar of the forthcoming Planning Bill.

“A brownfield first policy is needed so these unnecessary proposals can be stopped.”

A source close to Mr Gove said he was committed to hitting the Government’s target of building 300,000 new homes a year in the middle of this decade.

One source said: “He is in listening mode and we have been talking to backbenchers. Our focus is definitely on brownfield sites.”

One new idea is to replace these growth zones, where development would be largely unrestricted, with smaller growth sites to avoid a risk of a “Manhattanization” in some towns and suburbs, where they become heavily developed.

The Telegraph disclosed last month that 61 Tory MPs had signed a letter to Mr Gove and the Prime Minister asking that the Planning Bill is given pre-legislative scrutiny before it is formally introduced in Parliament.

Allowing this “pre-legislative scrutiny” would show that ministers are open to finding a middle ground when the proposals are discussed. This request was made directly to Mr Gove at the meeting with rebel MPs last month.

Head in hand over Boris speech though however bad it was Goves shocking ignorence is even worse

Some facts

There is no evidence that regeneration in the north will reduce housing demand in the South. Recovery in the north reduces outmigration and increase immigration , but it also boosts household formation and wealth in the north and upskilled and higher wage people in levelled up areas will now have more ability to move south for jobs in the South so long as wages and productivity are higher there, which they will be for decades. Also more housebuilding in north is more houses for retirees from the south to move into. Shifting housing targets between functional economic area is a bad idea from John Prescott which first led to the massive escalation of house prices in the 90s as the pressure was taken off on building in the South. It tried and was proven to fail.

Brownfield First. Well again the policy was tried and failed as it just throttled supply and Wasbadly and unworkably drafted. About two years brownfield supply for South East. You cant meet Woking’s housing need in Hull. Even if you took all the nations brownfields it meets only around 2 million houses out of a need for around 15 million over 15 years. Even by CPRE’s own most optimistic figures it doesn’t work.

No Manhattan’s. If course if you want every city to look like Manhattan you go for Brownfield only – just look at Leeds. This seems to be an idea ive heard every now and again from Tory housing spokes people that if only you built a few homes in villages everywhere you don’t need these new towns and large sites. Problem is it doesn’t work. Ive done the numbers on this blog on many posts over 15 years. It means the typical rural tory authority doubling the size of every village in 15 years -political suicide. I did the numbers for Stratford District for example. A developer printed the numbers for every village for every resident and the political backlash led to members almost instantly switching from a dispersed strategy (which they had introduced away from a concentrated one because of opposition in Stratford) back to one of concentration and even adding a Garden Community. Always the political pain will be less, and far more sustainable, from Garden Communities strategies. The fact that Gove even thinks and uses terms such as ‘Manhattenisation’ shows how ill informed and still ill read in his brief he is.

So dont panic that the Uber Nimby’s and the CPRE see a tiny chink of light and reveal there real agenda, which is not just to reduce housebuilding but almost eliminate it, even from past permission. Reality will hit ministers in the face and we will get yet another u turn in a couple of years time.

Some Beautiful Concrete and Steel Houses in the Countryside for Dowden and Gove to Enjoy

Whilst I dont think, because of their embodied energy cost, concreate and steel have much future, Its just architecturally ignorant to say a whole category of material is ugly. It all depends on color and texture (for example corten steel, and pigmented concrete) and how they interplay with the landscape. In any event concrete and steel are rarely used as the primary material in rural areas. Indeed if houses like these were more Common England would be more beautiful. Next post on wood – the future.

By the way concrete can be a net zero material what its made from carbon capture.

Gove (and Boris’s) New Casual Approach to Housing Supply will Get Them to End of Next Week But Perhaps Not Even to Xmas

The briefing coming out of number 10 is they are more relaxed about housing supply and tax changes (to buy to let) are a bigger factor.

So is housing more affordable.

Errr stagflation, higher interest rates coming to fight inflation and boost collapsing pound.

That equals high mortagage payments, lower real wages with inflation means a crisis in affordbility.

A crisis in affordability means mortgage defiles.

Equals a prick to a housing market whose boom conditions were caused by a shortage in supply.

A bust leads to debt deflation.

Treasury panics and seeks to boost supply side and blames Britain’s unique house price volatility on its uniquely discretionary and complex planning system.

Round the loop again.

Seems a political line to get through conference week and might not survive till xmas.

Well we do now know Turkeys vote for Boris.

Times Gove has ‘ruled out proposals to limit the power of local planning committees to block housebuilding’

Times

Fresh laws to block “ugly” new homes have been promised as ministers reverse plans to limit the power of local residents to veto development.

The new housing secretary, Michael Gove, is understood to have ordered a complete rethink of the planning reforms and has ruled out proposals to limit the power of local planning committees to block housebuilding.

Gove is also said to want to make housing companies pay more to local communities to improve amenities in areas where development takes place.

Last month ministers signalled the start of a retreat from what had been billed as the biggest shake-up of planning law in 70 years, designed to help reach a target of 300,000 new homes a year. This would have involved a new zonal system to strip homeowners of the right to object to new building in areas earmarked for development. Councils would also have been given mandatory housebuilding targets. The plans were blamed for the Liberal Democrat victory in the Chesham & Amersham by-election in June and have faced sustained criticism from southern Tory MPs and activists.

Oliver Dowden, the party chairman, acknowledged that the government had erred, telling the Tory conference in Manchester: “We have the wisdom to listen to people and the humility to learn how we can do better. . . we are looking again at our planning reforms.”He insisted that the goal was never to “rip up controls” [err Boris said just that in the forward], saying changes did not automatically mean “ugly and disproportionate development”. But Dowden said “additional safeguards are needed. . . We need to set out in law measures to protect our towns, villages and precious countryside from being despoiled by ugly development.”He told activists to “watch this space” for more details of the changes, which are at an early stage of development. [clause One..Ugly Development Is Banned, clause 2 ‘Ugly deformed or maimed people are banned from the streets’ [the infamous Chicago ugly law]…clause three dogs that look like nasty are banned… Well just ban houses made of concrete in villages – btw how often do planner see applications for houses made of concrete of steel in villages – its just planning reform bullshit]

Gove criticised developers that built homes out of steel and concrete, saying the principles of Georgian architecture had been “neglected”. The housing secretary also said that the materials most favoured by developers had the worst environmental impact. [be practical then end the Mayor of London’s ludicrous ban on Wood, when in Paris for example you now have to use wood on carbon grounds]

Speaking at a fringe event at the party conference, Gove urged developers to take inspiration from the architects of 19th-century housing.“Beauty doesn’t mean that every house has to be built in a Georgian style, but there are various human principles about how streets have developed which have been neglected, and alienating,” he said.“We need to think about the materials with which we build. . . some of the materials which have been favoured in the past by developers like steel and concrete are those with the highest level of embedded carbon and often the materials that are least likely to win fans. . . particularly outside already densely populated urban areas.”

Gove took over from Robert Jenrick, who was sacked in last month’s reshuffle after backbench criticism of the planning reforms.

Government sources said the upcoming planning bill was likely to be much less radical than previously envisaged and could amount to little more than a “tidying up exercise” of the present rules. “There is always a danger with planning reforms that you actually slow down the pace of development because builders are waiting for the new rules to come into place,” one said. “There will be legislation but it is likely to be limited to making the current system we have work better.

”Some question whether the planning system is really to blame for rising prices that have made homeownership increasingly unaffordable for first-time buyers, pointing to the 244,000 homes built in 2019-20, the highest for more than 30 years.

Bim Afolami, MP for Hitchin & Harpenden, suggested yesterday, at a fringe event organised by the Centre for Policy Studies, that restricting buy-to-let mortgages may have had a bigger impact than building more houses.

Seems like a license for bad behavior by local committees continuing to throw out sites allocated in plans. The fact that ‘Government sources’ are pedalling the discredited Iain Mulherne line that we dont need more housebuilding, even after Jenryk and his spads being fired suggest its comes from Number 10.

Dowden’s Conference Speech – Laws will stop ‘ugly’ development despoiling countryside – but he criticises those who want to restrict New Housing

Telegraph

New laws will prevent the countryside being “despoiled by ugly development”, the Tory chairman has vowed in a message of reassurance to the shires.

“Of course, no government is perfect, but I’d like to think that at least we have the wisdom to listen to people and the humility to learn how we can do better,” he said.

“That’s why we are looking again at our planning reforms…. Yes, Britain’s growing population must have new houses but it’s clear that additional safeguards are needed.”

He continued: “We need to set out in law measures to protect our towns, villages and precious countryside from being despoiled by ugly development. Watch this space.”

Mr Dowden insisted that the Government’s proposals had been deliberately misconstrued by the opposition, however.

The Lib Dems have “shamelessly” stoked fears that overhauling the planning system will lead to “ugly and disproportionate development”, he said.

The party chairman stressed that his constituents in Hertsmere “would have a thing or two to say about it” if it were true, but added that ministers will legislate to prevent that outcome.

So no pause on beautiful development then?