Latest posts

Town and Country Planning Act

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. [...]

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. [...]

Planning against growth

The planning system has repercussions that are felt far beyond the housing market. Higher land prices affect every area of life which requires land or has a factor of production which is linked to land, whether it is residential housing, industry, commerce or services. Wherever land is needed, high land prices matter. [...]

Time to rethink the national green belt policy

What kind of country is England? If you ask the people living here, the answer you are likely to get goes something like this: England is a country on an overcrowded island with ever-further sprawling cities and a countryside that is under constant threat of becoming covered in concrete by rampant development. According to a recent survey, 54 per cent of the respondents believed that at least half of England was developed with one in ten even estimating the development degree to be above 75 per cent. The reality, however, is far away from this perception. [...]

Wasteland

Planning was introduced in 1947 as an attempt to co-ordinate, but also to promote development. Over time, however, its focus shifted to urban containment and it has become a brake on economic growth. It is high time to radically simplify the planning system to unleash the true development potential of the British economy. [...]

Open up the land and build a more prosperous future

WHAT makes a country rich? Reading British newspapers, the impression one could get is that ever-rising property prices contribute a great deal to our economic prosperity. House-price increases are usually reported as a good thing, but this is something that worries us a lot when they stagnate or even fall. But what do high house prices, and indeed high land prices, mean for the economy as a whole? [...]

Slippery slope

It is time to change our attitude to high land and house prices. What we should strive for is price stability at the very least. This would strengthen our economic competitiveness, and future generations of first-time buyers will thank us - if national politicians ever have the courage to stop feeding the craving of the middle class for exponentially increasing house prices. [...]