Planning for a green future

Many of us want a green policy, but definitions of what constitutes a good green policy vary. To me a good green policy protects the beauty of the English landscape. It encourages fresh air and clean water, prevents litter and facilitates good recycling or disposal of waste. We should not prevent all new development, but should seek to preserve much of the natural environment and the farms we see around us. The single most important green policy we can follow is to limit migration, as a rising population of course requires us to build on more green fields.

Since 1945 government and Council led planning has become more and more intrusive, trying to limit the volume of development, and having a heavy influence over where it should go and what it should look like. Substituting the judgement of civil servants for that of private landowners, homeowners and investors has not produced a notable improvement in the beauty and utility of development over say the Georgian terraces of Bath or the Victorian villas of London, nor has it arrested the steady erosion of the countryside around every main town and city. It leaves the market short of homes, helping prices of them upwards to choke off some people’s reasonable ambition to own a home of their own.

It has managed both to create artificial scarcity of development land, and to encourage concentration of development. In my own county of Berkshire large acres of West Berkshire are protected from most development by being registered as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, whilst much of Maidenhead and Windsor constituencies are protected by Green belt designations. This leaves my own central Berkshire area prone to high levels of development as it does not benefit from any green space special protection.

We need to ask ourselves some basic questions about our current system of planning. How does it manage to let homebuyers and conservationists down at the same time? Why does it require high density of development and such large mortgages to buy? Why does so much development end up in London and the South East? I will explore further in future blogs.

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142 Comments

  1. Lifelogic
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 5:36 am | Permalink

    Indeed. The planning system has done a lot of damage as has LEA over charging for using refuse facilities with dumping all over the place.

    I too want fresh air, clean water, far less litter and illegal dumping, recycling where sensible and efficient disposal of waste. I for example would almost never buy water in bottles but billions are sold every year when it is free from the tap or public fountain. Though councils seem to have largely given up on these.

    What we have now (led by idiotic and endless BBC propaganda) is a mad war against CO2 plant and tree food. They seem to think in relation to this that trains, bikes and buses are good and cars, van, trucks and planes are all bad. Renewables are good fossil fuels bad, nuclear bad. In reality it is rather more complex than this even if you do (idiotically) believe in the CO2 is a devil gas and the world thermostats religion.

    There is certainly nothing remotely green about HS2 it is a disaster in environmental and CO2 terms (and economic terms). Even worse than Brown’s PFI lunacy.

    I see that Boris wants automatic state sector job interviews for ex-service personnel. So he wants active discrimination against anyone who is not one. Then lots of pointless time wasting interviews of unsuitable candidates at taxpayer expense. Plus of course it will be indirect gender and race discrimination as these people will not reflect the population in general. Sounds a good plan!

    • jerry
      Posted February 13, 2020 at 7:32 am | Permalink

      @LL; “I for example would almost never buy water in bottles but billions are sold every year when it is free from the tap or public fountain. Though councils seem to have largely given up on these. “

      Water is not free, both in commercial and domestic properties it is increasingly a metered supply, but even when not it is a fixed rate cost, many people do not live in areas with palatable tape water -yes it is fit to drink but doesn’t taste nice or is high in minerals.

      Who pays for water public fountains and their upkeep, the Council Tax payer perhaps – and with idiots doing unspeakable things in and to such fountains maintenance costs are often high, thus the risk of public health litigation cases often sees these fountains vanish.

      As for assured ex-forces job interviews within the state sector, well that’s one way of increasing recruitment rates to the forces…

      • Lifelogic
        Posted February 14, 2020 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

        OK not quite free but perhaps 0.1p for a litre – rather more affordable than bottled water.

        • Mark
          Posted February 15, 2020 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

          Checking the charges from Thames Water, their total bill works out at £3 per cubic metre of metered use, so it’s a bit more expensive.

    • Ian @Barkham
      Posted February 13, 2020 at 8:43 am | Permalink

      Dumping has risen in line with the astronomical land fill tax – go figure

      • Hope
        Posted February 13, 2020 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

        LL, Johnson gave us all “a categoric assurance” Sajid Javid would stay as chancellor. Sounding a bit like the cast iron guarantees to me.

        The U.K. Currently running a deficit with a huge debt that the Tories promised to clear by 2015 and used as its central economic plank for two elections, like the promise for cutting of mass immigration! We now have an unfunded promise to be carbon neutral by 2050. Johnson has just announced a £106 billion single railway journey by 2034, pay EU £100 billion for leaving when there is no money in the pot and he ridiculed Labour’s spending plan. As Con Woman puts it today, he is implementing Ed Miliband’s finance policy of tax and spend when taxes are at a 50 year high. Also Ed zmilibands Climate Change Act! To add insult he just sacked a chancellor who wanted to restrain spending!

        I think JR needs to explain to us how all this crap is going to be paid for, where the energy is coming from, what it means for jobs? Johnson has lost the plot so early.

    • glen cullen
      Posted February 13, 2020 at 9:57 am | Permalink

      excellent post

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted February 13, 2020 at 10:50 am | Permalink

      The Government needs to do something about land banking.

      The planning system could help. At present, LAs can impose a planning condition that development be begun within a set space of time, but not that it be completed.

      The landowners can hang on to their highly prized Permission simply by, say, demolishing the old buildings, or installing utility connections, and then stopping work indefinitely.

      Councils must be able to demand completion within a reasonable time too.

      There are many, many brownfield sites left idle for pure speculation.

  2. Ian Wilson
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 5:48 am | Permalink

    For too long ministers have targeted the decoy target of climate while the real danger of population has sneaked under their radar. You are surely right to highlight lax immigration control. We might also ask, s it right to continue all the myriad child benefits for couples with, say 10 children? Perhaps it will take a brave politician to address such an issue but it should be debated.

    • agricola
      Posted February 13, 2020 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

      It is all too easy to blame something that at best is debatable. Politicians have done this throughout history when they fear dealing with the real problem. Who in Parliament would dare stand up and advocate less reproduction or tax penalties for those that refuse to hear the message. Controllable immigration, around 50% of it was ignored for the last twenty years despite all the talk. On leaving the EU we have control of 100% of it. Watch this space.

  3. Mark B
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 6:03 am | Permalink

    Good morning

    I am glad our kind host is raising the issue of MASS IMMIGRATION and the effects of it.

    I read somewhere that, in the 1980’s people’s mortgages were done three times that of their salaries. But today to buy a home you need to borrow some right times your salary. This has led to government intervention into the market with its home buyer schemes which, rather than help, make things worse. We also have developers offering offering part ownership of a property, this too is undesirable as it will lead to more complications and cost when selling on.

    If one travels along the river Thames as I do, there are many high rise luxury apartments. Many of these are empty. They are bought by overseas investors as assets or, as ‘nth’ homes. Who out there on modest incomes can afford these ?

    People are having to move further out in order to find somewhere to live. This I believe places great stress on families. Something that is not taken into account.

    We need to slowly seen our economy off MASS IMMIGRATION and the pursuit of higher GDP. We need to refocus and look at our infrastructure which now struggling to cope. There seems little planning and no vision plus, the realisation that past and current policies are not working.

    Here is a tip for you Sir John. Next time you are around Parliament Square and Downing Street, have a look round, especially the state of the roads. There you will find pot holes and people sleeping rough. All within a short walking distance.

    If a government and Parliament cannot solve these problems on its own doorstep, then it has no right to govern or sit.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 13, 2020 at 7:07 am | Permalink

      Yes, but when it was circa 3 times your salary interest rates on Mortgages could be as high as 15% so interest only might be 45% of you salary (salary before tax & NI that is too)

      Not quite the same with mortgage interest rates at only circa 2% even when fixed for long terms of 5 or 10 years.

      • Hope
        Posted February 13, 2020 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

        Only when the Tory govt was in office trying to get us in the Euro by ERM. Otherwise it did fluctuate with a much lower average than you cite.

        Good to read Ken Clarke making a disparaging comment about Johnson’s cabinet being solely Dominic Cummings when it is mooted he is to become a Peer!

    • jerry
      Posted February 13, 2020 at 7:49 am | Permalink

      @Mark B; YAWN… We do not have “MASS IMMIGRATION”, it is a trickle compared to what it was in both the 1950s and ’60s.

      I never see anyone mention the indigenous birth rate over the last 30 or 40 years, anyone of those babies now over the age of 18 is likely to be looking for their own home. Given that their parents will have likely been of the 1950s-60s baby boomer (or indeed immigrant) generation or their children, that’s likely a lot of ‘babies’ now needing their own homes, needing public services, driving cars, using the NHS etc. as adults or now as grandparents.

      • Edward2
        Posted February 13, 2020 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

        Are you sure you are right Jerry?
        I had a look on the Office for National Statistics website and the one graph starts in 1964 showing approx 75,000 a year rising to approx 100,000 a year in the 1970s where it remained until 1997 when it rose to approx 200,000 a year.
        After 2000 it rose further.
        I dont think you can really call it a trickle.

      • Narrow Shoulders
        Posted February 13, 2020 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

        What was that destructive birth rate Jerry?

    • IanT
      Posted February 13, 2020 at 9:56 am | Permalink

      We’ve just received the outline plan for a new “Garden Town” (15k new homes) that will be developed at Grazeley (part of Wokingham for those not within Sir Johns constituency).

      The planners have decided to “concentrate” building in the Grazeley area I assume because they have probably run-out of potential sites anywhere else around here – given the extraordinary level of development in this area over recent years (we are currently surrounded by building sites).

      One thing I noticed was that the ‘Developers’ would be funding the planned infrastructure (schools, community centres etc) required and that this would add £47k to the cost of each new home. Of course this will simply be passed on to the Buyer (with a suitable mark-up probably).

      In other words the new residents will actually be picking up the infrastructure tab on their mortgage. I’m pretty sure this will not be reflected in any lowering of the rates charged by the Council though. It’s no wonder young people can’t afford to buy their first home in this area – they going to get hit with nearly £50k on top of already very high land and building costs – and as a final kiss of death – they’ll pay Stamp Duty on top of the whole inflated purchase price.

      We cannot keep increasing the population of this country ad-infinitum. I know we have an aging population but that’s no real excuse for unlimited immigration. It comes with all kinds of social costs – lack of affordable housing being the most obvious. Immigration is like rain – you certainly need some but not too much. No one wants to live in a desert but then again no one wants to live under water either.

      • dixie
        Posted February 15, 2020 at 11:04 am | Permalink

        Is that the “Right Homes, Right Places” brochure?

        I notice it says the new Grazeley Garden Town will have dedicated transport links into Reading, no mention of Wokingham where all our rates are spent on brand spanking new shops. No provision for the extra traffic because not everyone works in Reading.

        If you need any support from Wokingham LA services you have to get yourself to Wokingham, except no direct links from here and it seems Grazeley. Instead you get to waste hours of your life going in to Reading then out again to Wokingham.

        The biggest lie is to refer to these dormitories as “towns”, but there is never a town centre, no community focus, nothing for youngsters or families.

    • Mark B
      Posted February 13, 2020 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

      I hate auto correct on my phone !

      Right – Eight

      Seen – Ween

      And if there are any I have missed, you will just to have to adlib.

    • forthurst
      Posted February 13, 2020 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

      In the bad old days, I recall borrowing for my first mortgage from a local building society with which I had been regularly saving; I was allowed to borrow three times my proven annual earnings. Since then, demand and supply has increased dramatically: most of the extra demand has come from new or newish Britons and some from marriage breakdown and the ever popular ‘relationship’ breakdown. Most of the extra supply has come from banks who unlike building societies are permitted without prosecution to lend money which they do not have.

      When the Georgians and Victorians built in towns, they built terraces, often with many floors but with small external spaces: they conserved space. They did not think that most people would wish to spend time mowing lawns, an entirely futile make-work activity. There is every reason to increase the concentration of housing well beyond that of when the population was less than half that it is now. The only way is up; by reducing the investment in land and services per unit, much more can be spent on high quality high rise flats as is the norm in the developed world elsewhere.

      Although diversity is our strength, there are sound economic arguments for ending all immigration other than the return of people of British stock. When an alien is imported into this country, he places immediate demands on our housing stock and
      infrastructure; he may not cover such costs in his lifetime. If on the other hand, an English person is trained to do the job which the alien was allegedly capable, this
      has the effect of either removing someone off the dole and into work thereby also reducing the burden on the state or increasing the skill level of the population and thereby increasing the GDP per capita, something which has eluded successive governments obsessed with increasing the vibrancy per capita instead.

    • bigneil(newercomp)
      Posted February 13, 2020 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

      When we read that the mother of (a terrorist ed) was costing the taxpayer £550 a WEEK in benefits, plus free NHS – – – multiply that by all the other non-contributing arrivals – the financial cost to us must be so large that the govt dare not tell us the true figure.

      • Martin R
        Posted February 13, 2020 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

        About time we found out then. Why are we financing hundreds of thousands, millions even, who never paid a brass farthing in beforehand to finance those benefits?

  4. DOMINIC
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 6:24 am | Permalink

    I’d like to see every Tory constituency forced by law to build many, many more social properties so that those arriving from abroad after being invited by our diversity obsessed political class can enjoy the fruits of their policy making. I am all in favour of mass immigration if that forces down wages and helps Labour into power in the next decade or so.

    And then hopefully we may see more legislation to stamp out dissent from those who refuse to accept the new paradigm of leftist politics.

    Northern England has enjoyed the uplifting effects of diverse communities all living side by side in mutual harmony.

    New and fresh ways of living and exposure to new cultural values

    But we do need more legislation to crush dissent or else how is the British political class going to encourage the British population to take up their new ideas on limitations of personal freedoms in many aspects of their public and private life?

    Welcome to the new world of monitoring, control, oppression and demonisation and all because YOUR party has chosen to embrace identity politics and the activist left’s agenda on every single issue

    Again, Con-Woman tells it as it is and hits the nail on the head. This nation and its indigenous peoples are being exposed to a form of London-based politics that is as disturbing as anything I have seen in many a year and all three parties are responsible

    People will regret voting for Labour, Tory and LD.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 13, 2020 at 7:26 am | Permalink

      “People will regret voting for Labour, Tory and LD”, well yes perhaps they will – since Javid seems to be yet another dire tax borrow and waste socialist. Also an economic illiterate given his view on HS2.

      The people had little choice it was Boris or a Corbyn dog wagged by the National Socialist Party of Scotland or SNP tail. This would have been really appalling.

      • Martin R
        Posted February 13, 2020 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

        Economy illiteracy seems to be an essential prerequisite for landing the job of Chancellor. At least that seems to be the case judging by the string of incompetent incumbents up to the present day. But why, I cannot for the life of me imagine. Surely it doesn’t make much sense to cripple the economy year after year through crass stupidity, as seems to be the general idea, the lunacy of the HS2 mega white elephant being a good example.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted February 14, 2020 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

          Exactly

    • Zorro
      Posted February 13, 2020 at 8:16 am | Permalink

      It’s insidious, as are the proposed new restrictions on the internet. They will of course be used to censor opinions and make web site owners risk averse. The road to hell is paved with good intentions…..

      zorro

      • Martin R
        Posted February 13, 2020 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

        What made you come to the conclusion that good intentions played any part in this?

      • Lifelogic
        Posted February 13, 2020 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

        Indeed it is. MPs love to be kind and generous with tax payer money, handing it out to augment the feckless thereby encouraging many people to live off the backs of others. This when most could perfectly well provide for themselves then often their children continue the family tradition.

        They are, after all, just using the daft system that pertains.

    • Ian @Barkham
      Posted February 13, 2020 at 8:42 am | Permalink

      Most people already do, they are all left leaning big spenders – with your money for very little in return.

    • agricola
      Posted February 13, 2020 at 8:47 am | Permalink

      Satire is not dead, thank you for that.

    • dixie
      Posted February 13, 2020 at 8:54 am | Permalink

      Are you kidding.

      I grew up in a west country city 50 years ago that had race riots, lived and worked in London at a time of the Brixton riots and tried to move well outside to raise a family.

      So where is your viable alternative to LibLabCon?

    • steve
      Posted February 13, 2020 at 9:58 am | Permalink

      DOOMINIC

      Love it mate !

      Well written.

      “Again, Con-Woman tells it as it is and hits the nail on the head.”

      Yep. They don’t cower from political correctness.

  5. Shirley
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 6:24 am | Permalink

    This is one of my bugbears. Locally, we have lost an extraordinary amount of good arable land to new housing. Our small towns and villages are merging into one big housing estate. I note there are no extra schools or hospitals, or even medical practices. Our nearest A&E is over 12 miles away.

    Still, although we will producing less food due to loss of arable land, we can always import more and more food to provide for the current population and even more immigration.

    • jerry
      Posted February 13, 2020 at 8:46 am | Permalink

      @Shirley; “we have lost an extraordinary amount of good arable land to new housing.”

      Yet Google earth view shows plenty still available across the UK…

      “Our small towns and villages are merging into one big housing estate.”

      I wonder what that is doing to the value of the older properties in the localities?…

      “I note there are no extra schools or hospitals, or even medical practices. Our nearest A&E is over 12 miles away.”

      Well then, did you vote for low(er) central taxes, perhaps you should ask yourself some questions rather than trying to blame others!

      “we will producing less food due to loss of arable land”

      Actually we will likely product the same or perhaps more, as farmers use their time more valuably by way of improved efficiencies, less crops are lost to disease (GM anyone?) and with less time wasted on what was to the farmer was less than prime, high maintenance, land.

    • Ian @Barkham
      Posted February 13, 2020 at 8:47 am | Permalink

      Yes agreed. Not forgetting more imports raises CO2 production, but of course not in our own backyard. The joined up left leaning political thinking from our ever more left leaning liberal government.

      As that what we voted for.

    • BJC
      Posted February 13, 2020 at 9:22 am | Permalink

      Shirley: Many landowners are persuaded to sell by pushy developers who offer options that tie the landowner if the developer is granted planning permission, at the same time, preventing the landowner taking the land forward for development if the developer wants to promote another site instead.

      If a developer manages to agree options on several potential sites in an area, all other developers are effectively locked out. The developer then spends their time and effort promoting just the land they believe is the most likely to succeed. I imagine that once consent is given for the target plot, the value and potential success of the other contractual options increases dramatically, leading to your “join the dots” situation.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 13, 2020 at 10:55 am | Permalink

      Most people eat too much food. It seems odd that you can build houses for pigs without planning but not houses for people – perhaps the government think pigs are more important? I agree that houses are being built without the hospitals, roads, schools and all the other services the occupants will need. Low paid immigration is clearly a net liability (in the short to medium term anyway) as clearly the low paid do not pay nearly enough tax for all these services to be provided.

    • Fedupsoutherner
      Posted February 13, 2020 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

      Shirley the West Midlands are seeing record numbers of homes going up mostly on farm land and Sussex is abysmal for the same reason. As you say, there are no extra doctors, dentists, school places or hospital beds. To add insult to injury the roads are grid locked. Welcome to hell on earth.

    • agricola
      Posted February 13, 2020 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

      We must not forget the 10% set aside growing thistles which could be brought back into production. Then there is the increase in production under plastic and glass. Until we get a grip on reproduction and immigration building on greenbelt will continue.

  6. Lifelogic
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    Allister Heath is sound today in the Telegraph:- The Tories are courting disaster by flirting with a tax raid on wealth.

    It seems that discussions have been held at Nos 10 and 11 Downing Street about the possibility of a massive raid on pension contributions, a mansion tax-style wealth tax and a bevy of other levies. None of these reheated Corbynite and Milibandesque “ideas” was included in the manifesto.

    I suspect the decision to mug and thus handicap and deter wealth creators even further has already been made. It is a huge mistake.

    We already have the highest and most idiotic things taxes for 40 years. Government very frequently spend money in a way that delivers virtually no value or even negative value for the £billions they “invest” as we see with Brown’s the PFI racket, HS2, Hinkley C, the renewable subsidies and similar. Plus of course raising the tax in the first place (and the cost of doing this) does massive harm (even before they invariably waste the money). People and businesses change their behaviour to avoid taxes. For example choosing not to work and use child care as the tax levels mean it is simply not worth doing it, or fixing their own car or house up, or they just leave the country and invest or work elsewhere.

    Raising taxes from the current level just drives people and investment overseas and strangles the wealth creating sector. Is this what Boris and the foolish socialist Javid really want? They are destroying confidence even by just discussing such plans.

    • Zorro
      Posted February 13, 2020 at 8:25 am | Permalink

      Who knows where these counter-productive ideas originate…?

      Zorro

    • Ian @Barkham
      Posted February 13, 2020 at 8:52 am | Permalink

      Elsewhere in the Business Section the Telegraph also highlighted how HS2 was based on 50 year old technology that is not fit for purpose in a modern world. It will be close to 80 years out of date before the first services get up to speed.

      Your money down the drain for the sake of political ego that most of the current parliament wont be around to get the blame for.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted February 13, 2020 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

        It is indeed money down the drain apparently Javid had pored over the figures before approving it. So it is good he has gone given ineptitude on this scale. If he cannot see HS2 as an economic basket case he is clearly totally totally unfit to be chancellor.

    • jerry
      Posted February 13, 2020 at 9:01 am | Permalink

      @LL; “The Tories are courting disaster by flirting with a tax raid on wealth.”

      So who are these wealthy ex Tory voters now going to vote for, UKIP/TBP now being either a busted or spent flush, are they really going to sit on their hands in a fit of peak.

      “I suspect the decision to mug and thus handicap and deter wealth creators even further has already been made.”

      But if they have invested in wealth creation that money is not going to be taxed, in fact such investments are likely to be rewarded, at least in the long term.

      “We already have the highest and most idiotic things taxes for 40 years.”

      Or put it another way, we have the lowest taxes in over 40 years, and it is starting to show.

    • Alan Jutson
      Posted February 13, 2020 at 9:34 am | Permalink

      Ah the wonderful Mansion tax, Land tax idea raises its head again.

      What level will this tax be set at any ideas ?

      I wonder what those older retired people who are property rich and income poor are going to do if a mansion tax comes in, are they to be expected to borrow against their own assets to pay such a tax, or be forced eventually to sell off the family home.
      A 3 bedroom semi in Wokingham costs £500,000 and in outer London double that or more.

      Yet more interesting times ahead I guess.

      Some day I guess we will not be earning wages or gaining a state pension but will be given pocket money by the State and told how to spend it !.

    • turboterrier
      Posted February 13, 2020 at 9:53 am | Permalink

      Lifelogic

      They are destroying confidence even by just discussing such plans.

      Give it a few more decisions like that have recently made and any confidence will be well and truely destroyed. Boris and his cabinet are free falling out of touch with what the people and the country needs.

      They are not just hammering the “rich” but the critical mass of people who work and save hard to aspire to driving a luxury car for example but under the guise of saving the world, hike up taxes and destroy our luxury car market in one foul swoop. Speaking with a Jaguar new business manager about the possibility of making them a world market leader in hydrogen powered cars he said that the lack of stability in the industry basically driven by politicians and their decisions his personal view was that “they” will not be happy untill everybody is driving around in cheap up market Trabants made in the far east. No real interest is shown in the British car industry it is only seen as a milch money cow for them to waste on grandiose projects that are supposed to justify their existance and a place in history.

    • agricola
      Posted February 13, 2020 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

      With a new face at th Treasury in harmony with thinking at No 10 we will have to await the budget to get any feel for the future direction of this government.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted February 13, 2020 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

      Well, the job at Number Eleven is vacant now.

      I wonder if John will offer his services?

      I’m sure that he wouldn’t mind letting Johnson blame him for any failure for the country to prosper under his “Australian” arrangements?

      • Edward2
        Posted February 13, 2020 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

        It isn’t vacant.
        The PM has already appointed a new Chancellor.

        • Fred H
          Posted February 14, 2020 at 8:14 am | Permalink

          He was waiting in a car round the corner when Javid walked out!

      • NickC
        Posted February 13, 2020 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

        Martin, Even the Treasury forecasts have UK GDP growing after Brexit. As you have been told many times. Their forecasts suggested that the UK would grow only slightly less than if we had remained – less, but still growth – growth, not “poorer”. The Treasury’s predictions were over-pessimistic for the period following the Leave vote – being Remain biased – so that bias has been proved erroneous. I think we’ll do better out of the EU, as we did prior to 1973.

  7. GilesB
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    Why does so much development end up in London and the South East?

    Accounting policies not recognising externalised costs. With the result of businesses in London showing artificially high profits sustained by the burden on the public sector. London receives an excessive share of public sector capital investment, public sector operating expenditure, public sector purchasing, public sector employment and public sector support to the private sector.

    In the short-term there should be no new public sector investment in London, and at least 75% of civil servants in Departments inLondon should be relocated north of Manchester.

    By short-term I mean until the northern cities have similar infrastructure as London does, I’d guess about twenty years.

    Reply Some of us wanted London not to have HS2 and for that money to be spent elsewhere

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 13, 2020 at 6:56 am | Permalink

      Well why bother relocating them? About 75% of civil servants do nothing of much value anyway (many do positive harm like HS2) just make them redundant and release them get a real and productive job – if they can. Then use the money saved for large tax cuts.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted February 13, 2020 at 7:20 am | Permalink

        About 75% of UK degrees are fairly worthless too, with many in almost worthless subject. Do the same here and release these people to get more productive jobs. It largely an industry parasitic on tax payers.

        Let people pay for their own hobby subjects and restrict the soft student loans to people doing STEM subjects and a few other needed occupational ones if in short supply. Also only for people with about three Bs or better at A level. Certainly no loans for law or PPE as we have about 100 times more than we need of these already.

    • Caterpillar
      Posted February 13, 2020 at 8:05 am | Permalink

      GilesB,

      Outside London has also been intentionally destroyed. Birmingham was destroyed by the 1945 Distribution of Industry Act and the 1965 Control of Office Employment Act. Growth in Birmingham was seen as threatening (!?) and so central government just stopped it, in fact shrank Birmingham.

      I used to think such policies were solely national Labour Party incompetence, but in recent years I have tended towards conspiracy (or charitably wider spread incompetence, though I think this unlikely given the required amounts). Quite recently, when airlinks between Birmingham and China looked to be developing chancellor Osborne stepped in and bigged up Manchester. As Birmingham now battles to develop with potential spillover to its local communities, the council steps in to make driving-in unaffordable to those with low income, and soon plans to ban driving through.

      I cannot see London bias and playing off Midalands, NE, NW against each other changing anytime, let alone soon.

    • Narrow Shoulders
      Posted February 13, 2020 at 8:07 am | Permalink

      Civil servants, being paid London wages due to national pay bargaining, moving out of London puts pressure on local businesses by raising costs.

      If public sector roles are moved out of London they must be remunerated at local rates.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 13, 2020 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

      To reply:- almost everyone in the county (apart from a few daft politicians and some people on the make from the project) wanted the project cancelled. It is even more of a financial disaster than Brown’s PFI lunacy. Cost perhaps £150 billion net value delivered after the disruption cost and damamge is probably negative.

      • glen cullen
        Posted February 13, 2020 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

        fully agree

    • agricola
      Posted February 13, 2020 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

      I, like you was against HS2. If there is a demand for seats Birmingham- London-Birmingham I would have thought that increasing the length and frequency of trains by investing in platforms and signal control would solve the problem. As I understand it the need for more radical investment exists north of Birmingham.
      Now we have HS2 who will run the trains, government or private enterprise. Is it to be financially viable or is it to be a social service. Then at what cost to the user or to the taxpayer, or both. Will the entity/company be responsible for track and train. Has it all been worked out or are we making it up as we go along. If you know, please enlighten the rest of us who like it or not will be paying for it.

      • IanT
        Posted February 13, 2020 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

        Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that – when you mix high speed with local stopping and slow freight rains – you get the worst of all worlds in terms of track utilisation & performance. Getting high-speed trains onto their own seperate lines will enable more local trains to be run on the existing lines…

  8. agricola
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    Yes to your first paragraph, but our approach to it should be more considered. In terms of recycling and waste disposal we need a national programme, not 101 programmes left to local councils. A move back to glass containers from plastic would help greatly. A move away from prepacking in supermarkets would also be a good move. Lastly deal with migration and reproduction. The latter through taxation.

    Like it or not, much of the demand for housing in our green and pleasant land is from people escaping the effects of migration. Migration on the scale that has been facilitated by government and belonging to the EU has had a very negative effect on the character of life in much of inner city UK. The creation of political correctness was designed specifically to shut down any discussion of immigration. The legal furore over the deportation of criminals has been a classic example. I realise that you are a carrier of the PC disease and shut down any meaningful discussion, but your finger in the dam is not acceptable. The dam is ever weakening and politics will pay the price.

  9. jerry
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    I think we need a new definition, “Green” has not only become too politicises but has become meaningless, most of what our host suggests as worthy Green policies are actually old fashioned planning along with all the hyperbole that brings from developers and/or NIMBY quarters, quite how our host manages to bring migration into the mix – what next, target any future 1950s style baby boom too?! The population count is not the problem per se (unless the economy can not support such numbers of working age people, but we are told the UK economy is strong, if not never better…), we simply need to build upwards rather than outwards, just as other highly developed, high wealth, countries do, the UK needs to shake off once and for all our aversion to high-rise caused by the UK’s failed 1960s ‘system built’ high-rise social housing era.

    Why do so many people want to live in the London and South East area is because London has become the centre of our economy since 1979 perhaps?

    • Fred H
      Posted February 13, 2020 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

      Green can make some people see Red, and others visualise Black.

  10. Dave Andrews
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    I think a lot of people would agree with the idea that a person shouldn’t become a parent until they have the means to support a family.
    The rhetoric from the liberal left is that having children is a right and the state should support if the parents can’t.
    Can we decide who is right and then form policy according to the conclusion?

    My observation is the state doesn’t have the means in finances or personnel to address the current need. I reckon it never will and the idea of children as a consequence of casual relationship should be discouraged. Put that in the education system.

    • Mark
      Posted February 15, 2020 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

      Perhaps instilling the idea that normal families are good for society would be even better.

  11. Lifelogic
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    One daft thing with planning that I suffered from in the past was that you are often allowed to build a new house 9but only if you demolish the existing one). Even when there is plenty of room for both houses. This also costs more than retaining both homes.

    With a shortage of houses what on earth is the logic behind this government decreed destruction of perfectly good houses?

  12. The Prangwizard
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    Waffle and virtue signalling.

    There will be no solution to the problems we have until severe curbs on immigration are introduced, illegal immigrants are immediately deported and the government stops encouraging and facilitating it.

    We know however that Boris is a globalist and will do nothing as he supports a do nothing but pretend otherwise approach.

    Maybe I won’t be able to say this in future under government censorship plans. Maybe it won’t get through now.

  13. Shred
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    Does what we think about Green policy make any difference to the decisions being made by the civil service and ministers such as Johnson and Gove, who describes himself as a ‘greenie? There is a civil servant appointed by Boris who is telling the conference attended by Gobe that they must get the leaders to dispense with our economic system in order to do what Greta and her Marxist handlers think is necessary to prevent the Earth catching fire in a few years time. Re Guido.

  14. MBJ
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    I agree with all of this. If we always try to meet population increase the slippery slope of never ending search for extra space will go on and on. In the case of HS2; this when finished should be well used until we need more and more trains and methods of travel to meet the population.It is putting a plaster over the problem rather than addressing the cause.

  15. Stred
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    Gove not Gobe and t not h.

  16. Posted February 13, 2020 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    Before we can have a realistic GREEN policy, we have to take out the hysteria connected with Climate Change……
    Using land for housing or food creation seems to be a major conflict – but it shouldn’t be. Reserve the most arable land for growing food, if necessary, then build homes in less accessible places …. Using prime land for homes and factories should not be the default.
    There are ways to grow crops which do not need vast acres set aside for them – We have to make use of improved technology, as well as using roof tops for food and other purposes.
    Before we spread over the complete land surface, we should always remember that we can also go up, down and into the sea.
    A realistic Green policy requires us to evolve our thinking and use technology to make full use of managing what we have available

    • NickC
      Posted February 13, 2020 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

      Bryan Harris, Indeed I believe we should reclaim land from the sea.

  17. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    Fewer people is a good, green policy.

    Less consumption is a good, green policy

    Government measures success in GDP increases, business seeks increased revenue. How does policy square this circle.

  18. Zorro
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    Good points but what do you think of WBC proposals for development in Wokingham? Have you seen the latest leaflet? The map with multiple red dots was very concerning and to be honest it is good that the Council is active in restricting too many developments. The Council is proposing a market village in Grazeley which will accommodate requirements and lessen the pressure elsewhere in order to preserve better our open green spaces. The levy on each newly built house will help fund a more balanced infrastructure.

    Zorro

    • Hope
      Posted February 13, 2020 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

      Zorro,
      Most councils are not using NHB or CIL for infrastructure it is being used for general spending. Look at your councils accounts.

  19. Lifelogic
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    Sajid Javid tries to defend the appalling HS2 decision in the Telegraph today. A totally pathetic attempt it is too. I see that that even cost of fixing Big Ben tower is completely out of control (it has now risen to £79.7m) about the cost of building 600 three bed detached houses. Doubtless it will rise further as the contractors & builders discover more ruses to justify further increases.

    They care not what they spend not what if any value they get. Not their money so what do they care! HS2 will be the same in spades.

  20. Posted February 13, 2020 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    Hugely complicated issue- land tenure, landscape designations, tax policy, agricultural policy, population policy, etc etc – it’s easy to focus on just one tiny aspect…which I will do.

    I used to be a real eco-campaigner, as well as an ecologist. I eventually got fed up with the uninformed excesses of the green movement, which had a marked people-hating streak. In my view it was worth protecting and preserving genuinely rare habitats that had a chance of survival. But not, say, intensive arable land that was an environmental disaster to start off with. Or a patch of “green belt” that contributed less than a suburban garden in ecological terms.

    So, open up these ecological deserts to potential development, subject still to other considerations (infrastructure, etc) but without the need to argue about their ecological status. It might increase the supply of development land.

  21. David
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    All very well we all want a green and pleasant land. The big question is how to get government to look in this direction and cure the obsession with carbo and climate change.

  22. Sakara Gold
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    Good morning, Sir John. Off topic, but here goes…

    I have been following the Chinese coronavirus epidemic with considerable trepidation. Unfortunately, it has today become apparent that for whatever reason, both the number of cases and the number of deaths in China have been seriously underestimated, it appears that 60,000 cases have been today been reported and that the number of cases is doubling every five days.

    Following the removal of the most senior health officials in Wuhan yesterday, Chinese state media has overnight reported that Major General Dr Chen Wei, China’s chief biochemical weapon defense expert, is now to be stationed in Wuhan to lead the efforts to overcome the deadly, pneumonia-like pathogen

    There is now no doubt whatsoever that this virus poses an unprecedented threat to humanity, clearly it is super-virulent, infected individuals may spread the virus unwittingly for days before becoming ill.

    The government must grasp seriousness of the situation and close, with immediate effect, all UK airports, ports and the Channel Tunnel while there is still a chance of containing it

  23. Kevin
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    “definitions of what constitutes a good green policy vary”

    Disagreement about definitions is surely a fundamental feature of any debate about government policy and parliamentary legislation. The freedom to disagree is, therefore, of paramount importance in a democratic society. I was, accordingly, disappointed, to say the least, to read that the Conservative Government is proposing to extend Ofcom’s remit to include the regulation of “harmful but not illegal” content on the Intenet. Just the other day you used the phrase, “social media hate crime”, and I expressed the desire to see a definition of the term. Now we need a definition of the term, “harmful”, before we can evaluate the Government’s proposal. Does the Conservative Government consider it “harmful”, for example, to want to debate the meaning of the term, “social media hate crime”?

    Reply I meant by that people who make threats of violence on social media against named individuals or groups of people and who incite people to violence. Harmful content could include a guide on how to kill people in a terrorist attack, or incitement to join terrorist activities.

  24. Alan Jutson
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    I see from the latest Wokingham Development survey/plan (delivered only a few days ago) that for each house they build, it states that the developer on average pays £47,000 to the Council for local improvement/services/works.

    I am aware that modifying infrastructure can be expensive, but this seems like a huge sum per house that in the end the actual purchaser is funding within the actual purchase price/mortgage.

    The incentive for the Council is therefore surely to allow more housing to increase their income.

    This surely is just simply another hidden tax on the purchaser, as well as stamp duty.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 13, 2020 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

      It is indeed another back door tax. Often they have to subsidised social housing for others to live in too. Many of who may have more disposable income than the buyer themselves.

    • Hope
      Posted February 13, 2020 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

      Alan, the change came in 2010 under Boles. The LA grant was cut to force councils to build so each new home generating NHB, govt match funding community charge of each house, and CIL paid on a per square footage of the house or a different rate for business buildings. Councils are not suing funds for the purpose but for general spending. Read the accounts.

    • Mark
      Posted February 15, 2020 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

      A zero carbon house is likely to add a similar sum to the cost. It’s a surefire way to make housing unaffordable. I think the original Huhne proposal included a greenwash fine of £30,000 for anything that didn’t meet the standard, reflecting the added cost.

  25. Matthew
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    I have the answer to this and it’s really quite simple.

    Sadly, you probably won’t read this, because it will be buried with the other responses.

    1) Forget what you know or think you know. Just forget it. Get your knowledge out of your system. Re-humble yourself.

    1.5) Realize, whether you can stomach it or not, that San Francisco, and California (Los Angeles, San Diego, etc), and Japan (Tokyo), are beating us, by miles, in their building standards, particularly the best of San Francisco or Tokyo is what England can, given our land size, realistically seek to improve upon and introduce, (meanwhile German cities such as Frankfurt, and New York outside Manhattan is the very opposite of what we should be aiming for), and that we should take cues, at least, from how they, the best in the World at this (sadly for us), do things. Look to their standards, and adopt elements of their obviously, sadly, better standards.

    2) Choose those areas which you want to protect (forget about Green Belt or AONC), just say “this area must remain pristine because it meets my Conservative requirements for protection”, and push forward in that direction.

    3) Protect those areas, via law.

    4) You have now completed the “conservationist” part. Pat yourself on the back.
    Conservationists will ask for more conservation, and developers will ask for more land. Find a happy medium, but as a Conservative, tilt it slightly more in favour of Conservationists.

    5) Now on to the next issue; residential development. The remaining areas are, by definition, meant to be reasonably open to development.

    6) From a visual list of buildings, select those which you deem non-offensive to the eyes/beautiful, & allow those designs and reasonably similar variations or interpretations thereof to be built.
    Ban the ugly designs, as per Prince Charles’ well thought out recommendation. Put the “allowable styles/designs” list up for review in each region yearly/bi-annually, so that new designs which are deemed sufficiently beautiful, may be allowed in. We’re looking to produce more towns like Lewes (for example) or Cambridge (as a less-realistically applicable example), and fewer towns like Redding, or Luton, or what have you. I don’t care what the cost of the building is, it can be cheaper to build, or more expensive. That absolutely does *not* matter to me.
    What matters is banning eye-sores, which currently are the vast majority of designs being allowed by councils in England, sadly.
    It is also about encouraging beautiful environments, with some visible traditional elements, which can only help the country. Many of the buildings built today *are* eyesores, and should be eliminated from potential allowable developments. For example, systemically include incentives to favour buildings further away from pedestrians, not jutting up against pedestrians. Favour painted/stucco’d brick to exposed, ugly, brown brick, and favour lighter, more positive colours.
    I personally think the lightest colours are always the best, except for some of the very beautiful brown-brick, square window Georgian buildings which you can find dotted about. This is obvious, as in the example of the mention of a “dark alleyway”; everyone, rightly associates this with *danger* and *industrial*. But notice it is never described as a “well-lit alleyway”. Because brighter buildings *are* associated with better buildings.

    6.5) Ban all “modern” buildings as you may find them in Germany or North America (you know what I mean, just pull up images of business districts/parks in the US or Germany or, God forbid, business-parks in England). Those should *not* be allowed in England, unless you want to lose your country-atmosphere. You are looking, instead for something closer to the nicer business parks near San-Francisco, particularly those ones built in the 1950’s-1980’s. Put in a requirement that all buildings must retain, *at a minimum* some singular external/internal visual nod to traditional, English elements. For example, a coat-of-arms above the doorway, or a brick predominance rather than glass, or whatever it is that renders the building identifiably English. That way, England won’t be converted into a gigantic, ugly Frankfurt (not that Frankfurt isn’t ugly enough as it is). But will, instead, retain those best elements of our English heritage.

    7) Hand the administration of this list to local councils or regional councils (or perhaps even Westminster, though I’m not hugely in favour of that much centralization). I wouldn’t mind Westminster controlling this, *if* it was the Right of the Tory party in control. But invariably, when Labour gets into control they will wreck it all, which is why I would prefer regional controls.

    8) Broadly within the confines discussed herein, as well as regionally determined requirements (which I support) for a certain amount of greenspace/foliage/trees in front of new buildings, allow any and all development which meets those criteria (this is throwing a bone to the Liberals or business community, who would like to invest in and develop England.)

    All in all, we get our way (preserved regions of land, preserved viewing passages, preserved historical sites), *and* we get beautiful buildings, and the developers get to develop and make England a more central place for business.
    This is all eminently doable. Especially for a Conservative as distinguished as you are.

  26. Dave
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    Lets be clearer. Bureaucratic control over planning has led to appalling eyesores, corruption, cheaply built houses that won’t last 50 years and bad decisions in every possible way. In short it is an exact reflection of any and every central planning experiment that has ever been tried. Government at every level is the creator of problems not the solution. This government has already shown itself to be more than willing to extend the bad decision making to a new level. It is going ahead with the biggest white elephant railway project in British history, trying to ban free speech, giving peerages to all manner of Remainer low life and planning new taxes. I think the Boris honeymoon is well and truly over.

  27. Know-Dice
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    And Off Topic 🙁

    I hope Boris doesn’t dance to the EU’s current tune, as the song says “Go Your Own Way” and it this case do what is best for the UK, don’t worry about “level playing fields” the EU will attempt to tilt the field to their advantage in any case…

  28. Anonymous
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    We did it again, didn’t we.

    Voted Tory to keep *the others* out. And now your party does the usual – “We’ve got to think of the people who didn’t vote for us ” in this case Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion (certainly not your Labour heartland recruits.)

    So better get a shift on …

    4000 car charging points a day needed

    Half a dozen new nuclear power stations needed within the decade…

    WHAT HAVE WE DONE ?

    You pander to anyone except those who actually vote for you… a bit like the privatised companies treat loyal customers.

  29. Matthew
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    Within the purely English development context (ignoring international designs for now):

    Aim to produce more towns like Lewes or Cambridge, and fewer towns like Luton or Redding. Forget about the miserable histories of some of these places and simply seek to improve them in the direction of Lewes or Cambridge or something similar.

    Just trust me on this. Move in that direction.

  30. Andy
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    The biggest driver of population growth is increased longevity. In the early 1980s average life expectancy was around 70. Now it is around 80. Those extra people hanging around for an extra decade have to go somewhere. And there are a lot of them – more than 9 million.

    Now if would be sensible to build retirement villages and towns for them to go to. Smaller accommodation units. No kerbs. On site care. Bingo. And so on. Instead, too often, older people stay in houses that are too big for them – leaving a shortage of suitable accommodation for families. It should be parents with children who have the 4 bedroom homes – and granny who has the two bedroom flat. Too often it is the other way around.

    Another problem we have is the Green Belt. It acts as a noose strangling our cities and pushing up prices. We do not need to concrete over our country. We just need to be more flexible about what – and where – we build.

    And people want to be in the south east because of London. The most amazing city on Earth with bags of opportunities. Despite Brexit. I keep hearing about how grim the north is – and the news is constantly telling me how miserable the people there are waiting for their weekly bus. No thanks.

    • NickC
      Posted February 13, 2020 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

      Andy, Are you volunteering to curtail your own longevity? Don’t let me stand in your way.

      ONS: “Migration to the UK has been the main driver of population growth since the 1990s”.

      • Andy
        Posted February 13, 2020 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

        Also ONS: For the majority of the 20th century natural change was the main driver of UK population growth.

        Which is precisely what I have told you.

        The Baby Boomers – born from the end of the war until the 1960s – are the very people responsible for most of the population explosion we have seen. When you were all born life expectancy was below 70. More than 9 million of you are still here well into your 70s.

        It is very sad that you fail to acknowledge the impact this has had on housing.

        • Edward2
          Posted February 14, 2020 at 8:09 am | Permalink

          Since 1997 we have had the biggest increase in our population in our history and it has been caused by immigration.
          Estimates are that our current population is 70 million.
          That is over 7 million more than the last census.

          Natural population growth is predictable.
          The government has accurate figures for births and deaths and works from data in the last census.
          Infrastructure can be planned and provided
          However the rate of immigration since 1997 has been so large and unexpected that no Gov could keep up.
          I recall the government expecting 20,000 Polish people coming here when they became EU members.
          They were a bit out, 600,000 have come here.
          A new city the size of Southampton needed every year which we are not providing.
          So Andy, to try to spin it to natural population growth alone is a ridiculous nonsense.

  31. Iain Moore
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    Religions don’t often logically add up, in this St Greta’s is no different, and like all zealots converted to a new religion our political class has become completely unhinged and able to pursue two completely contradictory policies, that of going ‘green’ whist at the same time adding millions to our population. What is really disturbing is that not one MP has seen fit to point this out to them.

    In reality British Governments have decided it is easier to concrete over England than limit immigration, for if the English people cut up rough at the destruction of their much loved countryside, then they can be sneered at and called ‘Nimbys’ or ‘Little Englanders’ , but if they limit immigration, then there is a chance they will be called racist, and that they see as a fate worse than death. So bulldozing our countryside becomes the order of the day, and if any of these annoying Little Englanders object, then the Government will rig the planning enquiries , as they dif with T5, or the decisions will completely removed from our Councils, with development done by Ministerial diktat.

    Reply I have pointed it out!

  32. ferdinand
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    The free market tells where houses should be built. If building tends to gravitate towards a certain region due to specially attrctive opportunities then prices in that area will eventully rise too much and the movement there will lessen. Planners cannot dictate to the market other than by distortions which can be very costly in amenity and jobs. As you say the population is the key, That must be limited.

  33. MikeP
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    “Why does so much development end up in London and the South East?”
    If you were a property develop Sir John would you recommend building houses up North for £100k a pop or build more in Wokingham for 3-4 times that? It’s the profit motive sadly.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 13, 2020 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

      Well people are prepared to pay more to live in Wokingham. It is supply and demand and price matching these through the price mechanism.

    • miami.mode
      Posted February 13, 2020 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

      Agree Mike, as according to the published results of major house builders, they make around £50,000 to £60,000 profit per dwelling. Impossible if you are selling around £100,000. They are not charities.

  34. NickC
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    CO2 is not pollution. If the government (Labour, then Tory) had remembered that, we would never have had the “dieselgate” scandal in the UK. It was by concentrating on the reduced CO2 emissions of diesels against petrol engines, that the greater SOx and NOx and particulate emissions of diesels were ignored.

    But that is typical of “green” policies, which are universally failures, due to lack of scientific and technical knowledge, and misplaced panic.

    Young people in particular are susceptible to propaganda and have swallowed the green agenda at school and on the biased BBC (Attenborough, etc). The BBC’s decision to spread CAGW alarm whilst banning more measured sceptical scientific views sets the poor standard of debate in the UK.

  35. Everhopeful
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    When someone takes out a mortgage the bank “ creates” the money. In the 10 or so years up to the “crash” house prices rose by 200%.
    Basically banks invested their own monopoly money in houses thus pushing up the price.
    I imagine that this has the effect of transferring wealth from poor to rich, young to old ( although one needs a house to live in) and mostly to the banks!
    It also mush push up asset prices for those who can “play the markets”?
    “People need homes” is the cry mostly from the rich who have swept up new builds in vast numbers to rent out.
    And for this we lose our countryside.
    Another reason why mass immigration suits the establishment.

    • Everhopeful
      Posted February 13, 2020 at 10:00 am | Permalink

      I lived in and loved some of the beautiful places where HS2 is being built.
      Despite warnings I really thought Boris was a force for good.
      Ever been had? Over and over again.

      • steve
        Posted February 13, 2020 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

        Everhopeful

        You aint seen nothing……the worst is yet to come. It will be an Orwellian future whee we all drive round in sh__y battery powered toy cars, will be too afraid to speak out, and subservient to the EU, Scotland, and Ireland.

  36. ian terry
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    Sir John

    The single most important green policy we can follow is to limit migration, as a rising population of course requires us to build on more green fields.

    This just shows how the government is so far out of touch with reality.

    Is it only you for goodness sake that sees this as obvious? Just goes to prove Sir John you must have two left feet and totally out of step with their thinking!!

    May it long remain. There is a dearth of common sense coming out of Downing Street at the moment. When one looks at the experienced dedicated professionals confined to the back benches and not being used , it makes one weep.

  37. a-tracy
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    I firmly believe that social housing should be no more than 15% of any housing stock in any one small area, social housing schemes should be shared around fairly! 65% of the Borough’s social housing is in one town making up more than 25% of the housing stock and more are planned for this same town, other towns in the Borough have very few social homes and those kept for connected families! Three-story terrace style housing is nice as long as there is parking spaces for two cars per home near each home. Our local housing association estate has parking bays but they are a walk from the front door so tenants park on a blind bend behind their house close to their back doors!

    Council Planners need to be improved, my parents were up in arms with their local friends about two high rise blocks of flats being done up and designated for retired people. The lifts are never working, they’d be cut off, they couldn’t use the stairs etc. I’m sure the Council planners must be planning in two lifts for these buildings if they want to put more vulnerable, less able bodied tenants in them. If they are doing them up nice and making them retirement friendly – walk in shower rooms, washer/dryer in each apartment, a balcony has been proposed, I can see the benefits, people with similar needs in one location, less traveling for district nurses, care assistants, doctors home visits, meals on wheels etc. More company opportunties. Instead the Council just make poor announcements and annoy people. What about the lifts, what about parking, what about getting to the shops (surely this can be accommodated on the ground floor of the large blocks of flats with a mini-mart/visiting postoffice worker once per week for banking and pensions and cash withdrawal, hairdresser, etc. I have plenty of family members that sold up and have moved into retirement appartments happily resettled and enjoy the benefits of realising equity and feeling safe.

  38. Pragmatist
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    “Why does so much development end up in London and the South East? “B/c it is closer in distance and time-travel for many of them who live there to visit home outside the UK

  39. steve
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    What sentiment can I put forward ?

    Hmm……OK, let this government and it’s successors just beat the crap out of England, marginalise us, take our mobility off us, take our money, wreck the countryside with HS2, make every Englishman apologise for the highland clearances.

    Discussing anything seems pointless, no government ever does what their electors say. No government ever stands up for England.

    I am considering having a Seamstress modify all my trouser seats ready for the new compulsory meters.

    Might as well just let them get on with it, then, when the day comes we’re needed….tell ’em go &^%! off right out of it.

    In interim the best thing people can do for themselves is live off grid as much as possible – challenge every bill including tax (as is the legal right to do so) Where possible grow as much of your own food as you can, learn how to mend things, and make eliminating any debts a priority.

    …..In short, reduce or eliminate dependency on government and big business. If you don’t need them, they have no power over you and you don’t have to listen to them.

    Boris – take your green baloney to China, we KNOW you are having us over. Furthermore we KNOW your vision for this country is one that pleases the EU and YOUR friends in the SNP and Irish government.

    We, your electors are not as daft as you assume – you and your kind are finished at the next general election, we will even vote labour just to stick it to you – it is called revenge.

  40. DOMINIC
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    OFCOM. A Blairitre Quango now given levels of power that should make decent folk shudder with fear. Talk about transferring responsibility to an unaccountable, Common Purpose, identity politics obsessed shadow organisation

    This is what people have voted into power. Johnson’s waited and planned this most appalling step in a direction that in effect

    Deception and subterfuge of the highest order.

    Very dark days for our nation. Utterly shameful if breaks my heart to see how the poison of the London metropolitan mindset is politicising our entire nation to assert control

    We genuinely, we desperately need a true conservative force to expose the scam that’s now taken office

    • steve
      Posted February 13, 2020 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

      DOMINIC

      “We genuinely, we desperately need a true conservative force to expose the scam that’s now taken office”

      The corruption is so rife that anything calling itself ‘conservative’ can never be trusted, ever again.

      The answer is to not vote for them at the next GE. Same for other parties, soon as they show different colours after being elected…..mark their card then sling ’em out for good at the first opportunity.

  41. Roy Grainger
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    Development happens in London and the South East because that’s where people want to live. Market forces.

  42. a-tracy
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    John, what is Boris and the conservative government doing (other than sign of Brexit) that you fully support and think is a positive move forward?

    I can’t understand why he would want to build a bridge between two countries that are openly discussing wanting to leave our Union? Let’s wait and see before any planning or spending is undertaken what they decide.

    Why wouldn’t Northern Ireland think there are repercussions from Independence from the Union, there were none for Southern Ireland they are able to claim benefits and housing and vote in the UK because of the CTA aren’t they? We also currently give them free movement of freight through the UK with no road tax or road tolls or need to purchase fuel in the UK? So the Scots think there is no downside to them. Is Boris and your conservative government about to take the English for complete mugs again? With this all Blairs plan on behalf of the EU in the first place?

    I read margaret and martin saying we didn’t need to give all the benefits from day 1 of integration, so why did the previous governments do this? And why did the EU insist people were entitled to all the same benefits as British residents if you didn’t have to do this, why did they refuse to allow us to set a four-year wait before tax credits, housing benefit etc. most people I know aren’t bothered about free movement as long as benefits and free NHS and child benefits going to children not living in Britain wasn’t included in it so that low income jobs wouldn’t be the big draw that it was.

    • steve
      Posted February 13, 2020 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

      Lynn Atkinson

      Well I have respect for Mr Javid. He refused to yield to bullying by Boris Johnson and didn’t sell anyone out. Which is more than can be said of the current PM.

    • steve
      Posted February 13, 2020 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

      a – tracy

      “I can’t understand why he would want to build a bridge between two countries that are openly discussing wanting to leave our Union?”

      …I can. Imagine for a moment NI sold out, and Scotland independent from the UK but an EU member state.

      Obviously a bridge would be in the interests of Scotland, the EU, and a unified Ireland, but not in England’s economic or strategic interests so expect it to go ahead and expect us to pay for it as a gift to the Scots and Irish.

      Such a scenario has the added advantage of compromising our ability to sea trade with the rest of the world.

      BJ; that’s right Boris, we’re onto you mate, you’ve been sussed.

  43. DavidJ
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    Excellent; I couldn’t agree more.

  44. Posted February 13, 2020 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    Javid gone? Thank God!

  45. Posted February 13, 2020 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    I know the government is too cowardly to do this, but flights between the UK and China should be banned. This will give us time.

    • steve
      Posted February 13, 2020 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

      Iago

      It isn’t that the government is too cowardly, it’s just that like all civil servants they don’t see themselves as obliged to serve.

      It’s all about money, fat pensions, and having us over as mug enough to elect them.

  46. BOF
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    I see no planning for a green future Sir John.

    What I do see is a Government pursuing punitive policies that will inflict nothing but harm and enormous cost to the country they govern. HS2 is a prime case. Borrowed money paid for by future generations and probably redundant before it opens. An enforced change to electric vehicles without a thought to the environmental damage caused in mining all the minerals for the batteries, or the disposal of same, or the practicality, or where the electricity will come from, or the deforestation required to make way for wind turbines, or the enormous cost to the consumer of ‘green’ energy.

    Then there is Huawei, a decision that could risk the security of the country. And then their is the proposed wealth tax, the proposal to remove all gas boilers, the attack on pensions, it goes on.

    Is Boris paving the way for a Labour Government?

  47. BOF
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    I have no faith at all that there will be a significant reduction in mass migration. It is not just towns and cities that are being overrun by new housing, it is also small market towns and villages, even as far as the Welsh border.

    • Cheshire Girl
      Posted February 13, 2020 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

      BOF.

      You are right – there wont be any reduction.

      The very idea brings forth charges of ‘racism’. . The conversation is always shut down, by the Politicians blathering on about ‘diversity’ and the joys of a multicultural society. No dissent is allowed. The general public don’t stand a chance. They just have to pay their taxes, and shut up!

  48. BillM
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    Indeed we should be not only asking ourselves about the over developments around the South but demanding from the Government the details explaining why they think it is such a good idea.
    I can remember Osborne, as Chancellor, enticing the public to buy their own home with badly thought out promotions. His reason, I suspect was to promote more house sales and therefore increase the tax take from the Stamp Duty on each.
    Is this still the case I wonder?

  49. Lifelogic
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    Great to see that Sajid Javid has gone. Let us hope all his proposed tax increases go with him as should HS2. We are taxed far, far too much already.

    I do not know much about Rishi Sunak but he is another PPE Oxon chap. Still there are one or two sensible ones who survive it. I shall have to read his books but he cannot be worse than Javid.

  50. Fred H
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    Boris swinging the axe is all well and good to assert authority, but it can be a fine line between that and opening up dissent in wider circles.

    Get it done in disarray?

    • BillM
      Posted February 13, 2020 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

      Well, he has placed the 4 Great Offices of State in the hands of Brexiteers.

  51. kzb
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    On HS2, I’ve learned recently about the Great Central Main Line. This was a high-speed rail line built intentionally to link London and the North. All bends have greater than one mile radius. Corrected for inflation it cost £1.3 trillion in today’s money.

    It got closed in 1969.

    • Shred
      Posted February 13, 2020 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

      There was a costed proposal to reopen the Central Line for capacity about 10 years ago. It would have cost a fraction of HS2 but MPs turned it down and preferred the EU scheme.

  52. GetBrexitDoneBoris
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    No serious discussions can take place on this issue until it is recognised that those groups dedicated to destroying capitalism must be divorced from the green agenda.

    All we are seeing is those who seek to destroy our way of life, highjacking the green issues.

    Let’s recognise their aims are different to the average UK voter and get back to determining appropriate green policies.

    An Boris and his Government must immediately stop, making policies up ‘on the fly,’ with no mandate, nor costed proposals.

    The Boris honeymoon is over now.

    Get a grip Boris!

    • Walter
      Posted February 13, 2020 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

      Too late too late!- the gate is open and the Boris horse has bolted-

      and nobody knows where it will all end

  53. Fedupsoutherner
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    I am glad you have mentioned farms John. Around us many acres of farmland are being built on. It is vitally important if we want to keep emissions down that we have a good choice of local produce. As for the migrants bit. We now have over a 100 extra illegals to contend with. Will they be sent back? I doubt it. More people who know nothing of our culture let alone our laws and we wonder why crime is accelerating.
    Why the hell Boris hasn’t got you in his cabinet God only knows. I wonder where he is coming from much of the time. He is certainly not what I thought I voted for.

  54. Charles
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    ‘ It leaves the market short of homes, helping prices of them upwards’. It is a common error to believe that house price increases are about a lack of supply, but it is an error nonetheless. If there was a shortage of places to live then rents would have risen relative to earnings and they have not. Have a read of the Bank Underground blog written by staff at the Bank of England https://bankunderground.co.uk/2020/01/13/whats-been-driving-long-run-house-price-growth-in-the-uk/#more-5922

    -Low interest rates push up asset prices and reduce borrowing costs. We find the decline in the real risk-free rate can account for all of the rise in house prices relative to incomes.-

    By all means make an argument for more beautiful new buildings and protection of our beautiful countryside, but lack of supply and immigration have little to do with house prices.

  55. forthurst
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    Entirely off topic: in my local paper, a nurse reports that she was put into contact with someone tested positive for coronavirus. She further reports that she is herself immunocompromised. She was sent home by taxi wearing a facemask and ordered to self-isolate. Although she is a nurse she claims that she has no idea how to proceed other than to order her family to leave and to stay in doors.

    Firstly, why is someone with a compromised immune system put into contact with patients with infectious diseases and second why are people being ordered to self-isolate with no information on how they should proceed or how they are to be supported for a fortnight in English or in any of the 13, 674 different languages spoken here some of which have no written expression? She reports that contacting NHS 111 has not produced timely or any useful information.

  56. glen cullen
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    The UK developed quite for 300 years before governments introduced planning laws, graded/listed building and green belts….let people build what they want on there own land and stick to infrastructure i.e road, bridges etc

  57. glen cullen
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    A green future for me means, clean civic gardens, clean and save play areas, clean pathways and road, bins collected every week, toilets and water available on high streets, heavy fines on those that litter, good lighting on public highways so people feel save, clean beaches and canals …..

  58. Over ploughed
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

    Part of that planning should not be giving what amounts to welfare social security benefits to uninspiring farmers lacking innovation.
    They have succeeded as former Rhodesia did in growing cash crops, in that case tobacco, this case strawberries of little food value but a great ornament on the table which required staffing in the harvest or at least a nearby highway and a lazy incompetent “Pick Your Own” attitude. It’s a wonder they didn’t also have a “Milk your own Cow” as a sideline.
    Have any of them started planting low staff harvest crops or do they wish the gravy train still puffing in from France and the British tax-payer baling out their lack of business acumen?

  59. Rhoddas
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    Green to me also means “Green and Pleasant Land” free of Remainers in Government and their Special Advisers. 25% of SpAds gone by 3pm 13/2 according to Order-Order website, guessing these were Remainers too, cheering news indeed!

    Glad Javid has gone, never rated or trusted him. Bring it on Boris and Dom, let’s have a Leave cabinet and get some FTAs done and fix UK infrastructure, with lots of northern free ports and enterprise zones 🤞

    I want Tesla to shift to UK not Berlin.. intervention tactics required (ask Nigel to help), plus Dyson to build latest battery tech factory in my nearby Wrexham, which has had buttons spent on inward investment for decades; lets build our own wind turbines and solar panels and fuel cells.. let’s crack on!

    • Mark
      Posted February 15, 2020 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

      I note Jaguar has had to halt i-pace production due to a battery shortage. I think that maybe a shortage of raw materials lies at the root of the problem. Assuming we can simply ramp up production when the mining capacity doesn’t exist is just wishful thinking.

  60. Murphy
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    The way things are going “Uno duce una voce” looks like Boris and advisor at No.10 will very soon be able to impose on the people green, blue or any colour they like

  61. Boadicea
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    Certain cities will make applications for tax-payer money for flood defences. Refuse it! Also repeal a certain law which allows emergency payments to be made by Central Government to Local Authorities for flood damage and defence.
    These towns and cities have had in the main over… two…thousand…years… to feel the rain on their faces, see the rivers rising and put on their wellington boots and think “My word John, it’s floody here!”
    They have decade after after decade built on land they know will flood. Grown crops which require not wet soil but dry soil. The tax-payer should not have to compensate farmers, home owners and Councils which for one reason or another build and farm without thought…for …two…thousand… years.
    The excuse, and it is an excuse, is no excuse is Climate Change. No it is not. Full stop.

  62. Original Richard
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

    I believe HS2 costing £100bn over 20 years will be seen to be a massive waste of tax-payers money.

    But this is nothing compared to the £100bn/year over the next 10 years that Caroline Lucas (Green Party) wishes us to spend on the decarbonisation of the UK (BBC R4 “Week in Westminster” 08/02/2020)

  63. anon
    Posted February 13, 2020 at 10:54 pm | Permalink

    So why is litter and filth on our street such a problem?
    Its a shame we cant fine individual council CEO for the problem?

  64. bill brown
    Posted February 14, 2020 at 2:40 am | Permalink

    Sir JR

    On an complete different note it is interesting to observe that the government is not run by the candidates elected by the people but by background advisers, as we saw in the case of Javid

    • Edward2
      Posted February 14, 2020 at 8:13 am | Permalink

      That’s a very odd take on the reshuffle bill.
      The PM needs a Chancellor he can work with and one that has the same economic vision.
      It appears Javid did not.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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