We have been debating three proposals for better decisions on building and planning.
The first is my proposal to pay compensation for loss of amenity, view, and worse quality of life to existing homeowners. This proposal has several advantages. It can be done under the current law. Where I have seen it used it works. People accept the compensation, allowing planners to grant the permssion without objections from those closest to the proposed development. It can speed up the planning permission and avoid long appeals and court battles. It pays the money to those who otherwise lose out. It can be a cheaper solution for the developer.
The second is the idea put forward that we should auction planning permissions, with the money going to the state, probably in the form of the Council. This is a more formal version of Section 106 Agreements which we have today, which are individual negotiations with developers by Councils to make an infrastructure contribution. I have no objection in principle to an auction to determine the value of a planning permission. It is not, however, entitrely straightforward.
If the state already owns the land then it works very well. The state grants itself planning permission and then sells the land with permission, capturing the gain through the auction sale. This already happens.
If the land is privately held the problem is who will bid in the auction other than the current landowner? There would be no point in offering to pay a large sum for planning permission unless you already had secured the land so you could sell the package on or develop it yourself. An auction of one is a negotiation, which is what we have at the moment.
You could create a more serious auction if Council announced it was prepared to grant so many permissions to allow building of a specified number of homes or a speficied fllor area of commercial property. Competing landowners could then submit bids for how much they were prepared to pay to be one of those allowed to develop. Some areas would be ruled out for other palnning reasons – Green belt etc.
The third proposal is to go over to a system of LVT. Proponents of this see it as an easy answer to all our problems. Others see it as land nationalisation.
The full scheme replaces some taxes with a rental charge on all property payable to the state. It is therefore a more penal tax on all those who have already bought freehold interests in property, and may still be paying off the bank loan or mortgage, as their freehold effectively is taken away from them as the state becomes their landlord. I have never seen a satisfactory explanaiton of how the transition would be handled fairly, given the huge numbers of property claims that underpin the banking system and the current pattern of widely spread property ownership.