Monday, July 27, 2009

Tory policy on housing and planning

This is what the Conservative party says (click here for the whole story): 'We need more homes – but they must be built in a way that protects the environment and provides the infrastructure to support local communities. That’s why local people need to decide where new homes should go, instead of Whitehall bureaucrats'.

In Winchester the Tory controlled City Council has just approved the Barton Farm greenfield development as a reserve site for 2000+ houses over the next 20 years, despite over 5000 signatures against it. I think the feeling is that if the site is not put forward it may be imposed by Whitehall bureaucrats’. But would a new Tory government change anything? Would they really allow Winchester City Council to have the final say and refuse to allow any Whitehall appeal by the developers?

The problem is (above) ‘We need more homes’ . But what if the Tories really allow local feeling to stop large developments like Barton Farm? The lack of supply could stoke up an even greater price bubble than the last one. Sorry, you first time buyers…

Here’s the magic ingredient for the Tories: If every bit of land with existing planning permission was charged an annual levy on its land value this would bring more land forward to be developed as people starting finding ways to provide more accommodation for homes, offices etc, so that they had more income to pay the levy. Green fields would be saved as existing underused housing land was built on. Local democracy would be tempered with economic realism and the need for more homes. For household finance reasons the land value levy would have to replace most of Council Tax and Business Rates. Most people would thus see no income loss but for a transition period there could be a delay for those with extra payments due, until they sold up and moved. Renters who would not be charged the levy would still have to pay something for their dustbins and schools but there could be a drastic reduction in Council Tax down to a fairer basic charge.

A Tory hat trick…plus! 1. Local decisions 2. More homes AND save green fields 3. Help to prevent house price bubbles in the future 4. Fairer taxing of renters.

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