Planning

Haus proud

New houses in Germany are cheaper than their British counterparts and on average 50 per cent larger. Given that the two countries have a similar population density, what’s going wrong in the UK? [...]

Is the Green Belt sacred?

The ‘green belt' description has elevated imagination over reality in Britain's planning system. To the public, the areas it refers to seem to be much needed reserves of nature in an overcrowded, concrete Britain. They are, or at least they are believed to be, the last remnants of what was once England's green and pleasant land. To say anything against the concept of the green belt thus seems to smack of treachery. But we need some hard-headed thought about why and how we protect land from the development we need. [...]

Parting shot

Britain is one of the most expensive countries on the planet and London its rip-off capital. Filling your car, eating out, staying at a hotel or just doing the weekly shopping are all more costly undertakings than in other industrialised countries around the globe – even without taking house prices into account. [...]

The Need to Scrap Needs Tests

For reasons unknown there is a persistent prejudice about Britain on the Continent. In Europe they appear to believe that some kind of Anglo-Saxon capitalism is practised on this island. There must be a terrible fog in the Channel which prevents the rest of the world from seeing clearly what is actually going on, but in some respects the UK economy has more in common with Soviet Russia than with free-market capitalism. [...]

Solving Britain’s housing crisis

If there is one topic that over the past decade has steadily climbed up the ladder of political priorities, it is housing. In the first years of the latest housing boom, which started in the mid-1990s, rising house prices were almost universally regarded as a good thing. As prices went up, people felt wealthier. And wasn’t a steady rise in house prices also a sign of economic strength? [...]

Property perestroika

The British seem to be fixated with house prices and follow the development of the property market like the weather report or the latest football results. Prices have been going up and up in the past, and if annual house price inflation occasionally drops to a mere five or six per cent, commentators clamber ever more frantically to predict a slump. [...]

Das britische Wirtschaftswunder – Schein oder Nichtschein?

Insgesamt sind die Briten heute nach 15 Jahren Wirtschaftswachstum so hoch verschuldet wie nie zuvor. Das werden sie spätestens dann schmerzlich merken, wenn sich der Wohnungsmarkt abkühlt. Denn dass auf den langen Immobilienboom eine Korrektur folgen wird, gilt als sicher. Dann wird sich auch zeigen, was der Aufschwung der vergangenen anderthalb Jahrzehnte wirklich wert war. [...]

Vorsprung durch Technik – learning from German planning

If Britain cannot shift the balance towards more local incentives and decision-making in planning, then good and affordable housing will remain something that the British will only be able to see on TV – when reporting from Germany, says Oliver Hartwich [...]

Kein eigen Heim, Glück allein

Wer in England den Fernseher einschaltet, der hat im Wesentlichen die Wahl zwischen endlosen Variationen aus drei Grundprogrammen: Dokumentationen über den Zweiten Weltkrieg, Kochshows und „Schöner Wohnen“- Reportagen. Insbesondere die letzte Kategorie erfreut sich in jüngster Zeit wachsender Beliebtheit, denn die Briten haben für die eigenen vier Wände eine Leidenschaft entwickelt, mit der sie früher höchstens über das Wetter reden konnten. Nur leider ist Wohneigentum für viele Erstkäufer inzwischen unbezahlbar geworden. [...]

A house price nightmare

The current subprime mortgage crisis in the US was at least partly caused - and definitely exacerbated - by restrictive town planning policies. This has negatively affected affordability and led to a debt bubble which now spectacularly burst. If there is one lesson to learn from this, we have to make sure that house prices are not artificially inflated by planning policies. [...]