Planning gain

One of the most fraught parts of the debates about new housing and the need to find sites to cater for the expanding population is the issue of planning gain. Greenfields or derelict land come quite cheaply. Land with planning permission to build is very expensive. The gain is created by the planning system. It keeps the supply of building land tight, causing scarcity, and then allows substantial windfalls to the fortunate few who own the land that gets the permissions.

There are usually three interests in claiming the gains in a typical development. There is the original landowner. He or she expects a good profit to make it worthwhile releasing the land for development. There may be some element of compensation if the owner intends to carry on living nearby, for loss of open space and amenity. There is the developer, who expects some gain for the effort of drawing up the plans, and seeking the permission. A developer often has to apply for several sites to get one granted, with substantial costs to produce the wealth of detail planning authorities expect. The developer expects to recoup these costs on the winner and to make an additional profit as reward for the effort. There is then the Council granting the permission, which expects to get a substantial portion of the gain to assist them with the provision of infrastructure to support the new development. They also impose charges to recoup the costs of the planning function itself.

The people who do not necessarily receive any part of the gain are all the people living nearby whose views, amenity and access to public service may be adversely affected by the development. Occasionally developers offer compensation to neighbours to smooth the passage, but it remains a minority event. The Council may claim to be acting for neighbours by claiming and spending money from the gains,but so often the extra facilities offered are the minimum needed to deal with extra demand from the new homes so they do not add to the quality of life of people already living there.

The latest way of handling this is for Councils to impose an infrastructure related levy on the development. These are very variable, and attract everything from full support to hostility from critics who think it is wrong for the permit granting body to be a kind of financial beneficiary of the permit.

Does the present system need reform? Does it get the financial balance right? Or should it be kinder to the neighbours who do not get any compensation. Do Councils spend the money wisely when they have claimed it?


  1. Mark B
    July 30, 2017

    Good morning

    Good post. And not easy to answer.

    I suppose we need to ask why we need to build ‘there’ on the first place ?

    People tend to move away from the bid cities to queiter places and that means the countryside. So you can well imagine their furry when someone wants to put a new town at the end of their garden with its views.

    The problem for the Conservative party is these very people tend to vote conservative and, as we have seen, when you harm their interests they will harm you.

    What is at work here is naked capitalism where everybody wants their share. Problem is, with so many people wanting to come here and creating this demand it is only right that they should be the ones to pay for the privilege to live in my country.

    1. Sir Joe Soap
      July 30, 2017

      The democratic decision was taken on June 23rd last year to leave the EU. This decision was made largely on the back of a requirement to reduce immigration, to reduce over-development of England. Other countries in Europe don’t need to build new houses next to landfill sites, world heritage centres, busy roads and in other places where it is undesirable to live. We do. Yet our politicians are trying to obfuscate and delay implementing the will of the people.

    2. agricola
      July 30, 2017

      You put it much more diplomatically than I would.
      Put an end to the population increase of 300,000 plus each year. Financially discourage reproduction and those who live on the backs of taxpayers. People wish to move from cities because in too many cases they have become places that are totally alien to the quality of life they have lived and wish to live in the future.
      The whole sorry mess can be placed at the feet of malevolent and incompetent politicians, and the present incumbents have shown no sign of wishing to change it.

      1. eeyore
        July 30, 2017

        I guess there’s hardly a politician in the House who would not cut immigration if he or she could. They know where the votes are.

        The plain fact is that immigrants follow the money. What choice do most have? They’ll come legally if they can, illegally if they must, but come they will.

        The only real answer is economic collapse. If you really want to cut immigration, vote Labour. Put Mr Corbyn into No 10 and Mr McDonnell into No 11. They’ll soon sort it.

        1. Ken Moore
          July 31, 2017

          Breaking from the herd is the problem and there is no politician, like Enoch Powell did on immigration, prepared to stand out from the crowd.

          The Conservatives could outlaw ‘no win no fee ‘speculative land developers that have the money to run rings around local councils. . They could reverse the decision that compels councils to show they have a 5 year supply of building land. They could limit the power of the planning inspectorate instead of enhancing it.

    3. Hope
      July 30, 2017

      JR, you should be aware that your govt has already changed the planning legislation reducing it substantially and putting in a presumption to grant. Secondly, why do you persist harping on about housing when you perfectly know mass immigration is the crisis. Your govt has the worse record in history while making a false claim to reduce. Osborne having set up this mantra admits after leaving office no one was serious about cutting to tens of thousands. We are therefore quite right to believe we were lied to by your govt and moreover still are. Hammond only days ago announced this will continue for years! In contrast to the junior minster that it will reduce in 2019. To support Hammond Rudd made a speec about nothing. Announcing systems already in place. Which demonstrate a failed system as NI numbers being three times higher than the record busting estimates! You should be alarmed that your party is walking over the electorate cliff edge. 22 years in opposition should have focused your party. No, Hammond Rudd, Soubry and Morgan care less. No housing crisis an immigration crisis that your govt lied to the electorate about changing when in reality it was a deception.

      1. Denis Cooper
        July 30, 2017

        The paramount question is not how much EU immigration we shall have after we have left the EU, notionally on March 29th 2019, but who will be in control of our immigration system from that date on.

        Philip Hammond wants the EU to continue to control our immigration system even after we have left the EU, he says now for a period of maybe three years but more likely he would prefer it to be forever. He claims that all the Cabinet have agreed with him on this treacherous proposal.

        On the other hand Liam Fox claims that he, a member of the Cabinet, has never been a party to a discussion leading to any such conclusion and he does not agree with it; presumably he believes that the UK should resume full control of its immigration policy on March 29th 2019.

        Now apparently unnamed “allies” of Philip Hammond are attacking Liam Fox, and also Michael Gove and Boris Johnson, accusing them of living in “fantasy land” and “taking ideological positions”.

        Well, I suppose it is a bit of an ideological question whether the EU should continue to control our immigration policy even after we have left the EU, or we should resume full control of our immigration policy when we leave the EU on March 29th 2019; and I suggest that it is Philip Hammond and his anonymous “allies” who are giving the wrong answer to that ideological question which the British people answered on June 23rd 2016.

        It really is time for Theresa May to start acting as Prime Minister, the head of the UK government, and decide one way or the other, either for or against the blatant betrayal being advocated by Philip Hammond, and then impose that final decision on all members of her government.

        1. Leslie Singleton
          August 1, 2017

          Dear Denis–Seriously depressing that Hague has now decided to pipe up with his “immense advantages” of what he calls a transitional arrangement and I call simply further delay likely ballsing up the next election. Like it or lump it there is a bullet to be bitten here.

          1. Denis Cooper
            August 1, 2017

            I think we long ago got the true measure of Hague!

      2. Lifelogic
        July 30, 2017

        It was indeed a deception, actually it was just another blatant, cast iron lie and who was the Home Sectretary for most of this time? Who assured the nation that we had control of our borders through Schengen? This in a rather childish attempt to deceive voters into a remain vote during the referendum campaign?

        Could this be the same lefty that rather likes Rudd, Hammond, Morgan, Grieg Clark, Claire Perry and all the other dire lefty, greencrap, remainer she appoints? The person who thinks a punishment manifesto is a good plan for elections and is rather obscessed with misguided gender issues and worker on company boards?

      3. Ken Moore
        August 1, 2017

        Like the rest of the political class Dr Redwood has been brow beaten into accepting mass immigration is inevitable so pretends that the answer is just more building. Fingers crossed the voters don’t notice the overcrowding and get angry at the ballot box…

        Reply. I am trying to get us quickly to having our own migration policy. I do not accept the inflammatory language.

        1. Ken Moore
          August 1, 2017

          Please stop walking your tightrope and break out from the herd you will find it much more comfortable!

        2. Ken Moore
          August 1, 2017

          Reply. I am trying to get us quickly to having our own migration policy. I do not accept the inflammatory language.

          That’s straight from the ‘not infront of the children’ school of politics. I’m disappointed that you believe that the British people are so inherently unbalanced that to even discuss immigration frankly would send them into a frenzy of racism.
          It is the irresponsible actions and inactions of politicians who have allowed migrants to come in unsustainable numbers that is proving ‘inflammatory’. ..not the language used.

  2. alan jutson
    July 30, 2017

    No wonder housing is expensive when everyone is on the make, do not forget the governments share in not only stamp duty, but VAT on all of the new home owners new purchases, curtains, carpets, furniture, and whole host of other new items.
    Then of course there is the corporation tax on the builders, the income tax and national insurance for the actual labour used.
    Then of course we have the Councils, Council tax on all of these extra properties.
    The utility companies who now have extra customers, who also pay corporation tax, and employ workers.

    As you quite rightly say the original inhabitants of the area get nothing, other than more congestion simply because new estate roads are never wide enough, there is never ever enough room for parking, and schools and doctors surgeries become overloaded.

    1. Lifelogic
      July 30, 2017

      “No wonder housing is expensive when everyone is on the make”.

      No, no, things are cheaper because some people are on the make. People on the make is what increases supply. What is needed is to get planning relaxed and get government and the other parasitic rent seekers out of the way. If people make money by providing more housing that is in demand that is a good thing for supply. They will probably reinvest the money to do the same again thus providing what is in demand.

      The market working just as it should do. Price being the signal to the market increase supply. Just get the parasitic state out of the damn way please and get rid of 15% stamp duty, the green crap building regulations, the absurdities of the planning system, the planning gain taxes ……. out of the way.

      1. Lifelogic
        July 30, 2017

        The bricklayer, window manufacturers, groundwork people, roofers, developers, planners, architects, kitchen fitters, plumbers, electricians, joiners, project managers ….. are all “on the make”. That is why the property gets built and why they can feed their families and house themselves. “On the make” is good.

        Even if lefties like May do not understand these basics of economics. May is probably more far concerned with the huge gender imbalance on building sites.

        1. Lifelogic
          July 30, 2017

          The gender imbalance due of course, to the simple fact that, on average, most women prefer to take other jobs.

        2. alan jutson
          July 30, 2017


          Please read my post again, I am talking about Government being on the make because they take a share of everything, they even take a share of what is left after tax has been paid on wages, when those who earned it spend it.

          I am fully aware many people are employed in the construction industry
          and that many families are dependant upon it.

    2. Hope
      July 30, 2017

      JR, there is CIL and NHB money for each and everyhouse built. Come one get to grip with what is law. Secondly, these incentives to build are being used for general spending rather than the infrastructure needed for these houses. The. We have the squabbles of two tier authorities where responsibilities are split but the NHB and CIL are not equall distributed. Authorities need radical overhaul and sensible pay structures, not football salaries for half wits.

      The mindset for EU negotiation was always built on the presumption to capitulate or defer because the nation state had no bargaining power. The Govt lied to the public for years on his premise. The U.K. Is in a different position but it appears Davis and co still defer and capitulate as Cameron did before when lying to us over his false achievements. Can you lobby to address a changed mind set towards the EU negotiations?

  3. alan jutson
    July 30, 2017

    Clearly if we have more people in the country, then they will need more housing.

    New housing should you would think, should be an improvement on the original, so well designed properties which look attractive, are in keeping with the original area in some way, are of a decent room size, which allows for some storage, and which are efficient on energy use should be the norm.

    In addition, all new roads should be wide enough to accommodate free flowing traffic in both directions with decent paths on either side, parking on site (off road) enough for at least two cars should be the norm, with additional space for visitors, tradesmen, doctors, social carers and the like.
    Thus density of development is the real key to a successful development where open space is valued, the lower the density the more calming and attractive the site becomes to those who live in it, and for those who have to live with it.

    Yes it means more land per house, but we do not end up with future ghettos, where no one has space, everyone is overlooked, and cars end up parked on paths.

    Probably the best solution is to concentrate on building new Towns, in designated areas, with full facilities, rather than overloading the existing.

    Simply going up higher is not a sustainable solution for many people or families..

  4. Bryan Harris
    July 30, 2017

    As it is the developer that is the business and makes money out of new housing, they should be encourged to explore other options – IF as it seems everyone is saying, that we are running out of land then why aren’t we building homes under the land; in the sea; above the sea; under the sea?

    However, I don’t believe it is the case that land is so scarce – it is only scarce in and around well populated areas…. In many ways the North of England is neglected in terms of reasons to live there…. It’s at its most grimist when you see how labour councils have mismanaged vast areas…. but it’s true to say that there is more available land up north that should be used effectively, and more should be made of the new town concept – like Stevenage or Welyn Garden city.

    The green belt remains a viable idea, so no that shouldn’t be compromised.

    In terms of housing for different groups of people – more should be made of the fact that first time buyers will need less space. We should provide more 1 bedroom apartments that allow FTB’s to get on the ladder – basic housing in other words.

    Social housing is another thing that needs to be addressed – the term, ‘don’t get me started’ applies here, but the simple fact is that it is abused and should not be such a costly burden to the state.


  5. James Doran
    July 30, 2017

    I thought the idea was to reduce the cost of houses? Imposing an infrastructure related levy will add yet another cost to the process of providing more houses.

    1. Yossarion
      July 30, 2017

      That money that the Council receives is usually time limited (5 years ) its amazing how many times councils don’t spend the money and it goes back to the developer,

      1. Lifelogic
        July 30, 2017

        Indeed they are often so incompetent & useless they often cannot even spend the money they have taken off the developer (or rather taken of the end buyer of the houses, with stamp duty at up to 15% on top of this development tax too – needless to say).

        Of course they do not spend the money wisely JR.

        Since when did government ever spend anything wisely? Not their money not they who benefit, so they care not what they spend nor what value they get (or give to the public) and it shows every time.

  6. alan jutson
    July 30, 2017

    Many years ago went on a tourist guide of San Diego, always remember the comment.

    When this city was planned it was decreed that no building should put another in the shade of the Sun for more than two hours per day, it was developed to give the feeling of an open hand, not a clenched fist, in an effort to keep the stress of its inhabitants to a minimum.

  7. David Hambley
    July 30, 2017

    One thing you failed to mention is the loss of visual amenity for visitors to an area provided by increasingly scarce Greenfields and green belt, which once built on is lost for ever – changing the character of our country for ever and damaging tourism.

    And where does the insatiable housing demand come from? Mainly from immigration in my view. Another reason unlimited immigration must be stopped sooner rather than later as Spreadsheet Phil is currently suggesting.

    1. Leslie Singleton
      July 30, 2017

      Dear David–Of course it’s immigration–We don’t have a housing crisis, we have an immigration crisis–Good for Liam Fox in his latest pronouncement–I am all in favour of a transitional period except that I think it should already have started–Hammond gives the creeps.

    2. Prigger
      July 30, 2017

      “Spreadshet Phil. ” How odd, I have never heard the term before but know exatly who you mean. He resides in Discworld.

    3. Bob
      July 30, 2017

      If new arrivals have a right to free housing, healthcare, education and cash handouts, the demand will never be satisfied.

      Put an end to welfare tourism, and the rest will take care of itself. Somalian families would not insist on living in the expensive parts of London if they had to pay their own way. This will be obvious to anyone whose ability to think has not been disabled by years of Common Purpose brainwashing.

  8. Lifelogic
    July 30, 2017

    Well planning is clearly far too restricted and done in illogical ways too. The planning gain taxes and social housing provisions make new property buyers pay more to subsidise other tenants? Why should some pay to subsidiser others who may well be better off anyway. It is yet another tax pushing up house prices and decreasing productivity and damaging the economy and living standards as a result. This on top of the absurdly over the top greencrap building regulations which produce such dreadful architecture with pokey windows.

    One rule that is clearly absurd is that the planners often require you to demolish an old property in order to build a new larger one. Why not keep both houses for less than the cost of one?

    Planning department are often another hotbed of vested interests, rent seekers and often outright corruption. The rules are absurdly vague and very subjective and rarely have any rational logic or reason to them. Often the council are protecting their vested interests by restricting planning for new schools or nursing homes.

    1. Sir Joe Soap
      July 30, 2017

      The problem is also that the whole house-planning-building cabal is totally separate to the road-building cabal, so 5000 new houses don’t necessarily mean any change in road capacity to meet them. Also the support for infrastructure which is supposed to result from planning gains is dissipated through, as you say, rent seekers and vested interests.
      The fact that demand figures for houses are passed down from on-high gives local residents no say in whether houses will be built, and this local vested interest system means that local residents have no real say in where houses will be built and by whom.

    2. Lifelogic
      July 30, 2017

      Perhaps the most depressing thing in the papers today is the claim in the Telegraph that only 7% of academics voted Tory. This in an election where the choice was between dopey lefty May and the appalling let’s be Venezuela, rubber cheque proffering, Corbyn.

      One imagines it is similar at the BBC and much of the state sector.

      What a daft lot of academics and “experts” we seem to have. Perhaps we need Corbyn’s let be Venezuela so they finally come round to reality. Doubtless they are nearly all climate alarmists and fans of big government too.

  9. Original Richard
    July 30, 2017

    It is not a reform of the planning system that is required to solve the housing crisis but the ending of the corporates’ and government’s Ponzi scheme to continue with large scale immigration, whether from the EU or from the rest of the world.

    The taxpayer, through working credit and non-contributory health and welfare benefit entitlements etc., is effectively subsidising the corporates ability to bring in cheap labour from wherever they can find it.

    At the other end of the pay scale, the government saves money in the short term by being able to bring in skilled people from other countries rather than implement training for its own young people.

  10. Anonymous
    July 30, 2017

    The solution ?

    Take away planning and the planners altogether.

    After all, we don’t plan anything else – least of all population levels. It is only a matter of time before we get shanty towns.

  11. Turboterrier.
    July 30, 2017

    In days of yore it was when industry needed a workforce it was they that built the homes to accommodate their employees.

    Surely it is not beyond the realms of possibility that when large corporations and employers receive “support” to invest in the UK part of the package should be that they ensure that there is adequate accommodation will be made available for the intended work force. If as is in some cases the company pulls out or fails, at least the housing is left for the benefit of the community.

    As a Housing Development Officer working with the major property developers and housing associations the one common theme through all their intended projects was to look at the existing infrastructure and the employment possibilities as good links coupled with jobs meant that most of the development was virtually sold off of plan before a sod of earth had been turned over. There is no profit in empty new build properties awaiting a purchaser.

    A lot of villages are dying on their feet in that the youngsters have to move away for employment. If incentives with developers to provide industrial/warehouse units within the area could make the way easier for some companies to relocate to a rural area where the business rates could be cheaper than in the town and cities. With employment comes the housing requirements to accommodate the new influx of potential employees. With a new breed of residents the old village communities can all be revived garage, shops, pubic house, school and community hall.

  12. Caterpillar
    July 30, 2017

    1. Choose a peak population figure out how to stick to it.
    2. Land Value Tax.
    3. Usually build on greenfield/belt before brownfield, leaving brownfield for several decades for the species diversification – then decide whether to green the brown or build on it.
    4. Having done 1, go back and look at how many garden cities would be needed (coaltion nostalgia?)
    5. Having done 1 go back and calculate how many high rise cities with mass transport would be needed.
    6. If 4 and 5 look impossible change 1.

    1. Caterpillar
      July 30, 2017

      I should have given a clue at 6. Net migration is officially about 2/3 population growth (let us hope people coming in add more to GDP than those going out). MigrationwatchUK identify 85% of growth as net migration + births to foreign born.

  13. Epikouros
    July 30, 2017

    You have highlighted the downside of our current planning system and it is obvious that it is not fit for purpose. It does not balance supply with demand because the system has been compiled by and is dictated by the strongest or at least the most vociferous and aggressive group of vested interests. The consequences being that other groups of vested interests are financially disadvantaged. It is so skewed in benefiting only one section of society that it has a major influence on the nations economy. In fact it is major contributor to economic cycles and is a source of the maintenance of social inequality as it is the least well off who are disadvantaged most by it.

    Social housing and subsidies are used to counter the disadvantage that it creates for the least well off and government and the likes of the BoE attempt to negate the economic effects it has on the nation. Any success is limited and never adequate or long lasting. The moral to this of course is that treating the symptoms; shortages, overpricing and dangerous asset bubbles and not the cause in this case the planning regime is intellectually unsound(illogical and irrational). A lesson not learned now and hardly ever by politicians and bureaucrats. If it was then seeking planning permission would be cheap and easy and would be subject to market forces. Those who would argue that this would lead to anarchy maybe surprised to know that where this is used that tends not to be the case.

  14. Sir Joe Soap
    July 30, 2017

    “Democratic deficit” screams again from this post. The South East is being faced with enormous new developments, which the existing residents don’t want or need.

    At the top of the pyramid, the government, allowing uncontrolled immigration and freedom to buy/sell properties from/to anybody worldwide. This stokes up demand and is at the root of the problem.

    Next, a County “Growth Board”. Not something to keep an infant safe, but a bureaucratic construction which predicts housing demand 15 years out.

    Next, a District Council which is happy to nod in agreement with the Growth Board’s figures, that vast numbers of houses will be needed and which decides sites to put them on.

    Next, landowners and their developer-partners, along with architects and lawyers, who huddle together with the DC to argue endlessly over whether it’s better to build next to a world heritage site or next to a landfill site, and to tell the Council whether it wants to obey their guidelines.

    Next, the Parish Council, encouraged to put together a neighbourhood plan, which the local authority need only take note of, but aren’t obliged to act on.

    An enormous bureaucratic exercise which existing residents pay for but neither want nor have any say in.

  15. Bert Young
    July 30, 2017

    Often the bureaucracy at work within Council activity is shocking . A friend of mine who is a small scale but “high price” property developer has been subject to almost unbelievable delaying actions . He bought a piece of land with planning permission 2 years ago ; since then he has a) been subject to protests from people in the locality b) had to modify the approach and work done by the electricity people c) had a considerable objection from the “tree” man d) now been advised by the District Planning Committee that there is a delay until September ( although its Solicitor has warned of the likely compensation situation ) e) is now having to occupy the contractors in other local work just to keep them occupied . Why he puts up with all this nonsense is beyond me . He has now cleared the site and prepared the ground work .

    Locally the extent of new house building is considerable . Parking is already impossible in the nearby centre , the local surgery has had to employ more staff , the local school (who has been informed that no expansion is considered necessary and is already overcrowded) cannot cope , traffic congestion is horrendous ; add to this is another application for a further 850 houses . The Neighbourhood Plan that was circulated 3 months ago has pointed out all of the difficulties I have mentioned , is yet to receive acknowledgement from the District Council .

    Our country experiences expansion problems everywhere and Hammond – without Cabinet approval , has gone public with his statement of a transition period . I trust that Liam Fox will get adequate support to stop him in his tracks . Population is out of control .

  16. Denis Cooper
    July 30, 2017

    Off-topic, more irritating nonsense today:

    “The Scottish government has called for Scotch to be defined in UK law in order to protect whisky exports after Brexit.”

    For God’s sake, if Scotch is already defined in EU law, which apparently it is:

    “An EU definition of whisky currently protects sales from sub-standard products.”

    then it is already defined in UK law by virtue of the European Communities Act 1972, and all the SNP has to do is vote for the government’s European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, which will ensure that it and all other EU laws will remain effective in UK law until such time as Parliament decides otherwise.

    So is there nobody around in David Davis’s department to immediately slap down this whining Remoaner rubbish, and slap it down hard, or can’t they be bothered?

    Incidentally various government statements about that Bill have been misleading: it will not in fact transfer EU law into UK law because that EU law is already UK law, its purpose will be to ensure that after we have left the EU the entire body of EU-derived UK law will remain effective in the UK for the time being – with some inevitable exceptions – until our Parliament decides to change it.

    1. Denis Cooper
      July 30, 2017

      “Repeal of the ECA

      1 Repeal of the European Communities Act 1972

      The European Communities Act 1972 is repealed on exit day.

      Retention of existing EU law

      2 Saving for EU-derived domestic legislation

      (1) EU-derived domestic legislation, as it has effect in domestic law immediately
      before exit day, continues to have effect in domestic law on and after exit day … ”

      NB, it “continues” to have effect in domestic law.

  17. David L
    July 30, 2017

    It really does seem a different world regarding property in the north of England. A friend had to move from Durham to the Thames Valley for his job. His house in Durham has been on the market for a year and has only had one viewing. I’ve heard similar stories from others. Meanwhile Wokingham is becoming very different compared to the town I moved to 25 years ago; “Brackingham” is on its way! And the architecture of the new houses is identical to houses all over the UK, so no local sensibilities here.

    1. Anonymous
      July 30, 2017

      Knocking down factories and building housing estates where I am.

      1. APL
        July 31, 2017

        Anon: “Knocking down factories and building housing estates!

        Yep, and here too. Brown field sites in the middle of the city has been converted to residential occupation. Now instead of commuting into the city, the population has to commute out to the ‘industrial estates’.

      2. Christine
        July 31, 2017

        Knocking down office blocks and building housing estates where I am.

  18. behindthefrogs
    July 30, 2017

    Councils not only benefit from various fees but often actually own the land that is to be developed. This is even more worrying when the land has been given to the town for the benefit of its occupants. Wokingham is a prime example of this, where a park area neglected by the council, is about to be developed, making huge profits and reducing even further the open space in the centre of the town.

    We need legislation to stop this sort of development

  19. Anna
    July 30, 2017

    There seems to be a shortage of flats and small homes for first time buyers.

    It struck me the other day as I was shopping at the supermarket that there might be a way of alleviating this pressure for small homes. The supermarket’s huge car park could be built underground. The flat roof of the supermarket could accommodate a large number of flats plus a roof garden and play space. It would cost more for supermarkets to excavate to build the car park but they might recoup some of this by selling the space on the roof to developers for homes.

  20. Sue Doughty
    July 30, 2017

    It would appear there is a devious way the councils use planning permissions as a way of releasing land for housing. They refuse permission for any other use, such as a garden centre.

  21. Shoveller
    July 30, 2017

    Too many cooks spoiling the broth aren’t there in planning. The Law of Diminshing Returns and literally so for even reaching your destination on our roads does not mean you will successfully return without putting in a holiday day.

  22. Dennis
    July 30, 2017

    “…to cater for the expanding population…”

    There’s the obvious clue to housing and all other problems.

    1. Timaction
      July 30, 2017

      Yes and the politico’s know it but defy the electorates wishes!!!

  23. forthurst
    July 30, 2017

    Firstly, all prime agricultural land should be declared green space for ever; only infrastructure legitimate for farm production should be allowed; attaching significant urban development to a rural location makes absolutely no economic or strategic sense. Second, foisting responsibility for ‘homeless’ people with no ancestral attachment to an area on local authorities, thereby blocking access for indigenous service workers and people who otherwise would be able to pay to live there, should end; this needs to be returned to the Home Office who caused the problems in the first place, by importing people we do not need or want. Third, no one should have a particular right to live in a particular area; land values should largely determine where particular people can live which currently applies to most of us, except the sorts of people who inhabit very large tower blocks in very central locations without any of the skills to pay the real costs of living there or even an interest in the locally, easily accessible, European high cultural venues. Fourth, foreign ownership of housing should end including ‘offshore’, whether new or old build. Fifth, the buy-to-let racket needs to end; this is pure rent seeking and adds nothing to the economy, whilst making it harder for legitimate purchasers to get on the housing ladder. Sixth, the Tory Party should stop flogging off municipal property at a discount in order to buy votes. Seventh, local authorities should be encouraged to replace existing large sprawling council estates with higher quality dwelling places at much higher concentrations with adequate parking (underground), being able to buy out properties acquired under Tory buy-vote schemes.

  24. Mr Dennis
    July 30, 2017

    Running through a wheat field is bad enough…

    I have it on good authority that John Redwood once drove into a layby and ate a whole 6 pack of Club Orange biscuits with a carton of semi skimmed milk. That is the naughtiest thing he has ever done.

  25. anon
    July 30, 2017

    Curtail immigration and to less than the number of new-builds.

    First time buyers and those who live in one modest property, should not have to pay via planning gain and other indirect “cooked up” methods for subsidised housing which only apply to their properties.

    New housing should be built via government based contract, with freeholds or common-hold and then sold by auction to first time buyers.

    Land value tax to re-capture gains made by landowners and to fund the massive costs of immigration which land owners have gained from.

    Create incentives for deductions on new additions, new builds or complete renovations on derelict sites.

    End leasehold.

  26. margaret
    July 30, 2017

    I have a small house and at present adding space to let my grandchildren have more space and comfort when they visit. I am doing reasonably well as I intend to stay here for a couple of years until I retire, however my recent venture is to rebuild a dormer which was leaking , old fashioned and didn’t chime with the rest of the house. The house would have been completely modernised by now if it wasn’t for Planning. How does any council justify planning permission for something which already exists and has been there for 40 years , but needs slightly remodelling and facing with that trendy rendering and grey windows.

  27. David Cockburn
    July 30, 2017

    If developers had to get permission to build from everyone owning a home within (say) 50 yards of the development we would have a lot fewer lousy proposals and we would find developers sharing some of the planning gain with future neighbours who would certainly spend the money more wisely than their local council..

  28. gpmgroup
    July 30, 2017

    The planning system probably gets it about right where there is an up to date plan.

    One of the biggest challenges facing the planning system is in unitary authorities, especially where the authority is active in the property market. This results in the authority excluding sensible development in order to bring forward their own properties. Whilst this is beneficial to the council’s short term receipts it eventually leads to a massive misallocation of capital and this is incredibly damaging to the area over the medium to longer term. The old county council, district and parish council enabled far greater checks and balances.

    Loading costs on to the planning system is short sighted because it’s like a retreating tide, it makes little difference to the most profitable sites but it discourages development in the poorer areas and this means the government (HCA etc.) has to provide even greater grants and incentives if it wants significant levels of housing in less favoured areas.

  29. fedupsoutherner
    July 30, 2017

    Planning?? I don’t think so. Just read this from Christopher Booker in the Sunday Telegraph and weep or laugh, the choice is yours.

    This government couldn’t plan a chimps T party if it tried to.

  30. mike fowle
    July 30, 2017

    I’m afraid “Planning Gain” is simply bribery in my opinion. It should all be abolished and all applications stand or fall on their merits.

    1. graham1946
      July 31, 2017

      It’s a bit like ‘global warming’ morphing to ‘climate change’. Selling planning permission is illegal, so we call it ‘planning gain’ and its alright.

  31. Prigger
    July 30, 2017

    Mr Hammond and Mr Gove seem to be in preliminary electioneering for their leadership of the Tory Party. It is like having to choose either a pencil or an ink eraser when you are looking for the delete button on your computer keypad.

  32. Gary Lloyd-Coxhead
    July 30, 2017

    I own a very small smallholding, just over 1 acre, in West Wales which was purchased, intentionally, for it to provide a pension for my wife and I once our ability to manage the smallholding diminished and our need was to downsize to release the capital in our property. Other parts of the property have been developed over the years leaving just this small amount which is surrounded by other houses and is within the Local Development Plan area. Locally we still have a thriving primary school just a 1/4 mile away and we still have a sub post office. Additionally the Local Authority has recently completed the building of a large Secondary School which serves a large area and is approximately 5 miles away. There is therefore ample demand for housing for families. I engaged the services of a professional Architect to assist me in applying for planning permission on the acre of ground which, from his experience, should go through quite quickly. However, we didn’t anticipate the incompetence, pettiness and intransigence of our local planning department/officer and those that are ‘invited’ to comment on the development. The ‘suggestions’ or ‘requirements’ given by these NGO’s sometimes beggars belief. Despite our local authorities need to build thousands of homes in our area, our application is now 10 months on and a decision has still not been made. Whilst I have no objection for the local people and interested parties to be able to comment, it is this process that needs to be changed. Our little acre is surrounded by other properties and bounded by two roads yet the hoops we have had to jump through to appease and pacify these ‘interested’ parties just beggars belief. I have no doubt that many elderly people, in a similar position to my wife and I, will be seriously demoralised and put off in trying to realise the potential of their property because of this process. I do hope that you and your colleagues in parliament can tackle this issue to ensure the system is much more streamlined and accessible in the future. It shouldn’t be this hard!

  33. Iain Gill
    July 30, 2017

    On what planet does the government and authorities think it is reasonable and proportionate to allow all bridges in the capital capable of carrying coaches to be shut for a full day just to allow a few cyclists to ride around? No North/South travel by coach possible at all in London today…
    Doesn’t anyone have any common sense or idea of the economic impact of this madness?
    The country really is being run by nutters

  34. Local Lad
    July 30, 2017

    Bring back the Town & Country Planning Act 1947. Wealth is created with the granting of planning permission so that wealth should go to the public purse which has facilitated the gain. Ah, I hear you say, but then nobody would want to develop their land if there was no financial benefit. Would that be such a bad thing? We do need countryside after all.
    The trouble is that we have increasing expectations. We want standards higher than the previous generations. and that includes more space which is gobbling up our land at a great pace. High rise flats are not wanted. Is it reasonable for everyone to expect a spacious home which the community can’t afford?

  35. hefner
    July 30, 2017

    O/T an interesting “big read” in the FT 30/07/2017 18:30
    “Brexit triggers a great car parts race for UK auto industry”

  36. battleaxe
    July 30, 2017

    Why is nobody brave enough to state the facts?
    ( Well actually a very few have and have ended up dead, ridiculed or imprisoned.
    It’s not Left/right. Black/white. Young /old. Rich/Poor.
    Please read history.
    Start with all sources for
    The origins of the EU.
    Work backwards and then forwards.
    Forget Hammond, Soubrey, Abbott, all that trivia.
    Get reading.
    Then decide what you personally are going to do about it,
    in whatever way you can.

  37. Freeborn John
    July 30, 2017

    Philip Hammond be has to go. A delegation of brexit ministers need to visit the Prime Minister as soon as she returns from holiday and make clear they will all resign u less Hammond is sacked. Brexit is not safe while he is in th cabinet. The recent election was
    motivated in part by a desire to prevent the A5o negotiations reach by their conclusion in the run up to a 2019 year lctuon which would have maximised EY leverage. Now Hammond wants a “standstill” until just before the 2022 election. If he cannot change in 2019 he will not accept it un 2022 either. He absolutely has to go now. If he gets away with this
    coup the UK will a permanent satellite of Brussels and the result of the referendum thwarted.

    1. graham1946
      July 31, 2017

      Hear, Hear. It’s not even as though he is any good as Chancellor. He is a walking disaster for the Tories. If May keeps him on it will cement our opinion of her and the rest of them. Is there one minister who knows his/her brief? Heard Hunt on the radio this morning spouting the usual rubbish and it seems that the nurses etc are to wait on Hammond’s opinion even after the pay review as to whether they will get a rise. No backbone in any of them. All scared of their jobs. What a useless shower.

  38. Ed Mahony
    July 31, 2017

    Interesting article

  39. Paul Cohen
    July 31, 2017

    Well, chaos reigns!

    As Yanis Varoufakis predicted the EU negotiators are trying to initiate mayhem in the talks, block or disagree with most proposals, delay etc,etc. This is a well trodden path for them. For goodness sake will someone get a grip, show that this tactic will not work and be prepared to walk away if necessary. Also ban the use of ” Cliff Edge” for ever – try “Sunlit Uplands” instead.

    Cameron is much to blame for his creating this vacuum by his disgraceful and sudden exit, leaving others to clear up the mess he has made. Time for ministers to stop contradicting each other too – it just plays into the hands of a biased BBC and media.

  40. Christine
    July 31, 2017

    Discourage the number of empty homes in the UK. There are currently hundreds of thousands of these. If a property isn’t up for sale or rent impose a vacancy tax on it. We see investors, particularly in London, capitalising on the rise of house prices by buying property and leaving it empty.

    Make it more affordable for people to downsize by removing stamp duty where a larger more expensive house is being replaced by a smaller cheaper one. Build more homes suitable for older people to move to so that they can downsize once their children leave home. When was the last time you saw a development of bungalows being built? We keep being told that the elderly are the cause of the problems in this country, a point I don’t agree with, yet they aren’t catered for when it comes to new homes being built. Retirement villages free of the exorbitant service charges should be encouraged. It used to be the norm that retired folk would move to the seaside or countryside thereby freeing up homes in areas of high employment. Developers just favour building large 4-bedroomed detached house where I live.

  41. Pat
    July 31, 2017

    How about we reverse the assumptions. Rather than the community (usually through a local council) decide what someone may do with their own land at no cost to said community, how about they compensate the landowner for any restrictions they place on its use. So if the community likes having a green field instead of a housing estate they purchase the field and then use it as they please.
    If there are people who want every field kept as a field then they should have to pay for it.
    I don’t see why anyone should acquire rights over other people’s property just because they can see it.
    As it is we get a shortage of housing and a very few people get to enjoy the fields at no cost to themselves.
    As to the infrastructure, more development implies more council tax, which should provide adequate funding.

  42. John
    July 31, 2017

    The ancient English village is a bucolic site especially sounded by English countryside, quite with just bird sound and streams. I suspect in 5 to 10 years that will not be possible to experience any longer. There will still be villages but with large amounts of in fill building, rat run roads between the over burdened highways that run either side of them.

    Where I currently am, in a conservation area, an 8 story block of flats has been given approval in the two story area again after a number of fights against it from the locals. Its a conservation area as all the buildings are Victorian or Edwardian and so they made it a conservation area so that new builds would not ruin the look. So much for protection.

    What was England is all but gone. When I hear people saying its not that bad its generally because they still like in a very expensive area not yet blighted. I recon 5 to 10 years and it will affect every area and it will be too late by then.

  43. Lindsay McDougall
    August 1, 2017

    The idea of developers compensating house owners adversely affected with direct payments rather than payments to Councils is immensely appealing. It will reduce Nimbyism to some extent.

    Developers can pay immense sums to councils. Most of you will remember the former County of Royal Berkshire. It was the proud boast of its chief highway engineer, when M4 and M25 were completed, that the county did not have to finance its own highway programme at all. Donations from developers paid for the lot.

  44. Simon
    August 1, 2017

    It is a complete absurdity in a modern democracy that so much land from the Queen’s holdings downwards is owned by descendants of mates of William the Conqueror.

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