Comment on: Horse and House
Colin, good work putting some rough figures on this.
It's worth remembering, though, that scrub can be a valuable habitat, and that much of the outer parts of north east London are built at unsustainable densities so a better place to start would be to densify those suburbs.
Comment on: Housing - just like the weather?
I would suggest that housing organisations themselves, and think tanks, are equally fatalistic and as a result timid and narrow in their policy positions. Every time a housing crisis is mentioned, everyone "agrees" that "supply" (by which they usually mean hoping private developers will build) is the only real answer.
Imagine if everyone "agreed" on that in 1946...
Comment on: Growing pains
A similar idea has done the rounds for years in connection with energy efficiency.
Given that reducing energy usage in homes is a vital part of plans to mitigate and adapt to climate change, there's a social imperative as well as a personal benefit. So the Government could extend the EPCs to require that homes being sold or let pass a set standard, a kind of MOT. The Energy Bill got somewhere towards this with the provision that homes had to reach at least an E rating from 2018.
One other benefit of the MOT comparison is that it would involve the property, not just the landlord. The big flaw in much of the self-regulation, such as accreditation, is that it pays too little attention to whether the homes themselves are in decent condition, leaving it to local authorities to run around inspecting properties against the health & safety regs and trying to take enforcement action.
Comment on: Talking to ourselves?
Your general point is spot on, I think. At a Just Space Network conference a while back a tenant talked about the campaigns they ran in the 1970s, how they would march down and protest outside a new private housing development about the lack of new affordable housing being built. When did you last see a housing protest like that?
Priced Out have been very effective at getting across the frustrated first-time-buyer's viewpoint with sympathetic journalists. Councils and housing associations mobilising their tenants - that would be fantastic, but it's a big ask!
The other well trailed explanations are journalists and editors generally being comfortable property owners; the people most affected (young & poor) not holding much sway over the media or swing-voter politicians; the problem being impossible for any politician to "solve" in one term of office; major actors like housing associations and charities being reluctant to be too critical given their close relationships and funding agreements with national/regional/local government; etc.
One other I don't see much discussed is the tendency of everyone to make the main policy solution "build more houses", which everyone then agrees with, neutralising the debate. It would be much more effective to find a means of building more houses that attracts a wide consensus among housing organisations and to then noisily campaign for that, forcing the government to accept or reject something.
Which brings me to the NPPF, because there are many in the "housing world" who disagree that it will deliver high levels of private sector house building, and who have other problems with the policy. Possibly not the sort of policy that will garner the most support and enthusiasm.
Comment on: Mixed-up policies
This study by Paul Cheshire is worth a read:
He suggests that "mixed communities" treats a symptom of inequality, not its cause, and that they can make life difficult for people on lower incomes and shops and services cease to serve their needs.
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