I see the latest scam to try and increase the availability of housing here at BBC news.
Seems like the plan is to try and bribe NIMBYs by taking a levy from house builders to be used for local improvements. So the way to get affordable houses is to increase their price with another development levy. That’ll work well to help affordability!
Let’s look art a real example of developers and council greed and planning insanity: Near me is a closed pub site and builders are busy submitting plans for some of the most inappropriate and densely packed housing ever imagined on a rural road. The plan, which of course is being opposed by all so-called NIMBYs, - including me I should add – includes a section 106 agreement. This is an existing scheme whereby the developer makes a payment to the council in return for development permission, yes, we already have a scheme to make developers pay bribes. There is also a requirement to include ‘affordable housing’ in the plan, so in our local case they have some totally inappropriate and intrusive flats, otherwise they would have to pay another levy.
So what is the result? The intended properties, executive style of course but packed like sardines, will cost approximately £500,000 each and the ‘affordable units’ will cost upwards of £300,000 each. For comparison a good semi 3 bed, in a village with shops and services, can be bought 2 miles away at around £150,000 or a modernised terraced cottage at well under £100,000. Anyone fancy a pokey high density rural flat with no shops, no local jobs, one bus an hour on a good day at the giveaway price of £300,000. No? I thought not.
The classic argument is to blame the NIMBY’s, but that is often badly misguided. I live in the village and well understand the need for affordable houses, especially for for local youngsters, and I would support them. But these schemes, like our local pub site, are not viable sensible schemes. In particular they are not affordable.
In our local case I know that the site cost the developers £250,000. I believe that abasic 2 bed house can be built for under £150,000, so the site would easily support nine units to sell at under £200,000 each. At that price they would benefit local families and the builder could still make a small but honest profit. In addition smaller scale cottage style (not 3 storey monstrosities) houses could easily be designed to fit in size, shape and design to the other local village buildings and look attractive. Most local residents would fully support such a scheme. But no, the builders are looking at a profit in the region of a million quid and the council are being seduced by offers of free money.
The BBC news TV item yesterday showed a meeting and you could see the smiles and grins on councillors faces when the plan was explained with promises of ‘free’ money. It doesn’t seem to occur to them that this profit and ‘free’ money is being loaded onto the house prices, exacerbating the problem of real affordability and at the same time pissing off the existing locals with ugly and inappropriate schemes designed to maximise the take.
So if I protest the development and pour scorn on the government’s bribery scam to build overpriced and inappropriate things in inappropriate places in order to make money for builders and councils by raising house prices am I really being a NIMBY? Maybe I am on the right side of the argument? I like to think so.