CBI Challenges Government to Kick Start Housing Market

CBI Challenges Government to Kick Start Housing Market

15:41 PM, 30th September 2011, About 13 years ago 8

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"CBI want the Government to do more to restart the misfiring economy"

The government should remove the financial and planning constraints that are throttling the housing market in a bid to boost the economy, industry leaders have urged.

In a keynote speech planned to influence Chancellor George Osborne’s autumn budget statement, Confederation of British Industry Director General John Cridland spelled out what employers want to see.

His plan for growth includes:

  • More spending on transport and power stations to kick start the construction industry and to create new jobs
  • The return of an upgraded mortgage indemnity guarantee scheme (MIG) that protects lenders from the risk of falling house prices
  • Pension linked mortgages for first time buyers
  • More shared equity housing schemes

Cridland announced his proposals at a CBI dinner in Gateshead.

“Bolstering infrastructure spending investment on transport, power stations and housing is one of the biggest and most effective levers the government has to pull,” he said.

“It will help unlock some of the £60 billion of potential investment currently on company balance sheets and could create new jobs into the bargain.

“I want to see the chancellor use his autumn statement on November 29 to jump-start the housing market.”

Quoting figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders, Cridland told his audience that 36,200 first time buyers bought homes in the first three months of 2011, compared with 43,600 a year earlier and 167,400 in the same period of 2001, at the peak of the market.

“Now is the time to stop the stagnation and get the housing market flowing again,” he said. “As we have seen, without a steady stream of eager first-time buyers the housing market stagnates and our whole economy suffers.”

“A determined attack on the major blockers of finance and planning could transform the outlook of a generation of young people and provide a huge fillip to consumer and business confidence.”

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10:07 AM, 6th October 2011, About 13 years ago

Whilst stimulating the housing market fiscally would help, there remains the fundamental imbalance between the protection of the countryside/Green Belt and the fundamental human right of the population to have decent affordable housing. Approx 13% of the land area is built up urban areas, yet approx 85% of the population live in these areas. Narrow self interest lobby groups such as The National Trust, Natural England, Campaign for the Protection of Rural England, and many others are holding necessary development. In our particular area of East Dorset there are areas of heathland which are protected, and, no doubt, rightly so in the opinion of many, However Natural England has engineered a block on all residential development within 400m of the heathland and an effective tax (known locall as the "lizard tax") of up to £1500.00 per unit on developments between 400m and 5km of the heathland? Surely that is "ultra viries" since they are imposing constraints outside of the boundaries of their jurisdiction? Also in Poole the CPRE are objectiong to a mixed use development in the centre of the urban area! Madness! The environmental "balance" is far too greatly weighted in favour of wildlife, whether flora or fauna, than it is to the needs of the human population. Removing these unnecessary restrictions on development within urban areas would be of far greater benefit

14:48 PM, 6th October 2011, About 13 years ago

As I understand it, my understanding is very limited, it is more profitable to develop green land than to re-develop brown sites which contributes to the need for countryside to be developed whilst urban sites lie derelict. If this is so wouldn't it make more sense to incentivise private sector developers to take on that task and improve our inner cites and suburban wastelands rather than damage the unique habitats remaining on our small island? It would be very easy to just expand urban sprawl regardless of what we lost. It is an emotive argument to say the needs of wildlife are being put before the needs of people. Obviously the housing shortage is a critical need. But I, for one, am deeply grateful that the groups you mention are ensuring that greed and profit do not steal from future generations the pride and pleasure to be had in our open spaces, whether in a city or in open countryside. The examples you cite clearly suggest an imbalance. I have read of many more examples where our land has been damaged in a way that will never be repaired. The reasons for that happening have not entirely been about philanthropy and affordable housing, if at all. I therefore think it is right to have a voice for wildlife which in turn protects what delivers quality to our lives as humans.

15:29 PM, 6th October 2011, About 13 years ago

It is far from correct to say that greenfield sites are cheaper to develop since there is often not the services infrastructure to serve the new development, whereas brownfield sites are generally in built up areas with all the necessary infrastructure, amenities and transport links already in place. Urban sites lie derelict because the planning system militates against their development because of such misguided policies as the loss of employment generating uses and viability reducing "stealth taxes" such as huge Section 106 contributions and local attempts to choke off any development such as the Heathland Mitigation Scheme which exists in our area of East Dorset. This imposes a £1500.00 tax on each unit within a zone between 400m to 5km of the heathland, regardless of whether greefield or brownfield sites are involved. Within 400m of the heathland no residential development is allowed, even an extension of an existing property. In my locality of Bournemouth, the urban area containing the brownfield sites lies wholly within the 400m to 5km zone and the sea restricts expansion to the south with the result that there is nowhere to expand yet there are such restrictions upon development and costs imposed by misguided policies that the provision of necessary and affordable homes is being priced out of the market. The current situation is not working and 85% of the total available land area devoted to 15%of the population is disproportionate and totally out of balance. You castigate me for using emotive language and then you talk of "greed and profit" and "stealing from future generations" as though a decent place to live is somehow an unreasonable hope. The illustration I give is related to my area and my personal experience, but I have no doubt that there are many such "strangleholds" on the necessary development across the country

19:17 PM, 6th October 2011, About 13 years ago

Thanks for such a detailed reply. From what you say, within your area, the nonsense is in planning laws treating both brownfield and greenfield sites as equally precious because of this of 'exclusion zone' that exists. That is the nonsense and surely it is right therefore to campaign that these be developed before encroaching on unspoilt land.
My point is not that a decent place to live is an unreasonable hope, just that we will none of us have a decent place to live if developments are not controlled with a view to protecting the environment. It would be very simple to solve housing problems if we just crammed rows of houses across fields. A decent place to live involves more than 4 walls and a roof. It is the external environment aswell. Planners need to step up their game and come up with creative and realistic solutions which give people the homes they need and an environment in which they can grow. Is it that you feel the wildlife and environment lobby have an unequal share of voice? I find this difficult to accept given the strength of voice in the construction industry lobby.
And there was no castigation. Merely an observation. And yes you are welcome to castigate in return 🙂

22:01 PM, 6th October 2011, About 13 years ago

It is indeed sensible to maximise the use of brownfield sites within existing urban areas, but when this is attempted there are shouts of "garden grabbing" and "greedy developers" interested only in profit and intent on raping the countryside. What absolute rubbish! Vocal local narrow interest groups will spring into action to protect the status quo in their part of the world, Often to protect their own selfish desire not to risk devalueing their usually "developer" built home, whether that developer did the "unspeakable" yesterday or a hundred years ago of actually building the house they live in. They sit in their ivory towers and deny the right of others to do the same. What hypocrisy! Why does the provision of well designed and affordable housing "spoil" land? You fail to address the unfairness of the glaringly obvious imbalance of 85% of the population living in 15% of the land area. No doubt you would say that the wildlife in the natural environment needs us to speak for them since they cannot do so themselves, but who speaks for the disenfranchised homeless who have an equal right to life and shelter? It's not The National Trust or The Campaign fro the protection of Rural England or Natural England. Their survival is predicated on grants from Government (ie us the taxpayers) which pay generous salaries and benefits to their officers, The general public pay lipservice thinking that these groups are interested in the general good rather than concerned with their own survival. Ignoring the problem and putting the perceived "rights" of wildlife to an appropriate and adequate environment whilst homelessness increases will lead to far greater danger and social unrest than ever would the relaxation of the arbitrary "settlement boundaries" and green belts and various other forms of development control. Control will only ever be possible where their is perceived fairness in the system and that is clearly not the case when 15% of the population are subsidised by the remaining 85% living in increasingly congested urban areas. It has to change. To ignore the challenge before us is to store up misery for this and future generations, who may have thousands of square miles of open countryside to enjoy but are living crammed shoulder to shoulder together in urban ghettos. The riots that we saw earlier this year will become the norm

22:18 PM, 6th October 2011, About 13 years ago

Clearly there is a miss-communication here. You seem to be presuming from my wish to protect our countryside that I am some radical fluffy bunny lover. I am not. I also do not accept your argument relating to 85/15% This is driven far more by economic development, employment and transport infrastructure than it is by the wishes of people in rural areas to protect their view of the countryside. It is a lack of housing, employment and public transport in rural areas which compounds the issues you speak of in urban areas. I am fully aware of the issues around homelessness and housing provision. To begin making personal attacks will never resolve anything. I shall therefore bid you goodnight and step aside.

9:40 AM, 7th October 2011, About 13 years ago

Good morning. I'm sorry if I have offended you, but I thought we were having a sensible debate on the "elephant in the room" which is being ignored and which has the potential to trample us all. There may well be mis-communication, and perhaps I have not explained myself well enough, but, equally well, you seem to be assuming that I want to see the whole of the country concreted over. I value the countryside as much as anyone, but it is clear that there is an imbalance in the allocation of space in this country. You may disagree with the 15/85% split but the information comes from the Office of National Statistics, I have not simply made them up for my own purposes, a look at Google Earth will clearly show just how much of our country is still green, even within urban areas. There is indeed a lack of affordable homes, employment and public transport in the countryside but you only have to look at the success of narrow interest and very vocal opposition groups such as NT, CPRE, conservation groups etc etc in holding back development which would energise the rural economy. We need more people in rural areas not less in order to enable the capital and maintenance costs of the necessary infrastructure to be funded. However we first need to make optimum use of available land within urban areas, like those where I live, and, from my personal experience (which is where this debate started), local barmy policies, like those restricting necessary development in existing urban areas outside of heathland/SSSIs, makes the provision of well designed affordable homes even more impossible to achieve whether in urban or rural areas. Certainly protect the heathland itself but to impose restriction outside of its boundaries is madness!

11:51 AM, 7th October 2011, About 13 years ago

It seems to me, somehow, that when a person works in the public sector and is given authority, common sense can fly out the window. You might 'enjoy' this link which is an entirely similar issue http://tinyurl.com/3k5d58y
I do not think, from my side of the fence, that conservation groups are holding back development. They are there to temper what could be a very one-sided debate with a longer term view. That they are successful beyond their remit, is the fault of planners. I absolutely accept, from what you have said, that your local situation seems preposterous and could ultimately be self-defeating. And yes, we do need more people living in rural areas to allow improvements to infrastructure. But how is that to be achieved by just expanding the edges of cities?
It is not that I do not accept the 85/15 split, I do not accept that the causes for that are about protecting the countryside for wildlife. The population of our country settles where there is commerce, transport links and employment.
Here is an excellent example from my locality of where planners get it right and every lobby had their say. http://www.rackheatheco-community.com/
Whilst the green belt cannot remain as it is, equally a more radical view would be to seek developments away from urban centres. But SSSI's and all that they represent should not be in that mix. As to their reach beyond their boundary, that does, rather, sound like greed (I am being ironic!)
I am not offended. I simply have no wish to participate in a discussion which is about individuals or becomes personal. It is human nature to protect one's own situation. The planning system should be there to consult and make an impartial decision based on the greater need. If it is working properly there should not be situations where any lobby, on whatever side of the argument, gains precedence. I think where we agree is that the planning systems in this country lack that common sense and impartiality. Both in relation to the greater need as much as in relation to Mr Smith and his wish to add a conservatory to his cottage in the hills. 🙂

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