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George Monbiot Completely Misunderstands the Housing Market

by | 6th, September 2011

GEORGE Monbiot completely misunderstands the housing market isn’t all that much of a surprise of course: the list of matters economical that George can misunderstand is fairly long.

But what’s getting him today is that there’s a reform of the planning system in the air. This, according to him, means that the bastard plutocrats will be able to build all over this green and pleasant land and once again the bastard plutocrats will make pots of money.

Strong planning is one of many factors, but it is symptomatic of a political culture that puts the national interest above the self-interest of the rich and the long view above the quick buck. Pickles and Osborne are seeking to rip up England’s planning system for the same reasons that they want to drop the proposed new banking rules: corporate power, cronyism and plutocracy, the forces that got us into this mess.

Erm, no, not really, In fact entirely the other way around.

If you’ve got a strong planning system then this means that the bastard plutocrats who own the pieces of land which have planning permission get pots of money. For example, one decent description of the London Green Belt is a fortune preservation system for the Duke of Westminster: given that he owns so much land inside that Green Belt.

It’s also true that in the South of England the most expensive part of a house is the piece of paper that lets you build it. Land is cheap, even now, £10,000 a hectare for farmland and that’s the good stuff. Building a house costs around £100,000 ish and you can put 10 to 20 on a hectare. So, houses cost to build £100,500 to £101,000. But they cost £300,000 in the South. Why? Because not enough pieces of paper allowing you to build a house are issued making them scarce and thus expensive.

Who gets that money? The £199,500? The bastard plutocrats who own the land that gets the planning permission. So, if we wanted to reduce the amount going to the bastards we’d issue more pieces of paper bringing the price of them down and thus lowering the profits of those who can get them.

Umm, that is, relax the planning system in order to reduce the amount going to bastard plutocrats.

But George has just argued exactly the opposite: as I say, the list of matters economical he can misunderstand is quite long.



Posted: 6th, September 2011 | In: Money Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink