What has building houses got to do with housing need?


“Londoners miss out as homes built as ‘safe deposit boxes’ for foreign buyers” So went a headline in last Saturdays Guardian.

“The control of plans for tens of thousands of new homes in London is now in the hands of foreign investors who are increasing their grip on the capital’s prime property assets, figures obtained by the Guardian have revealed.

Sites for close to 30,000 homes are owned by just 10 investors in Hong Kong, China, Malaysia, Australia, Singapore and Sweden, sparking warnings from politicians and housing industry experts that too many are being built to act as “safe deposit boxes” for international investors rather than for Londoners in housing need.

Foreign owners seizing on the London housing market include the Usaha Tegas Group, owned by Malaysian billionaire Ananda Krishnan, which has submitted plans for 104 luxury homes on the site of the former St John’s Wood barracks, with apartments expected to sell for up to £5m each and seven-bedroom stone-clad detached mansions around landscaped gardens that will go for more.

Knight Dragon, a company owned by Hong Kong billionaire Henry Cheng Kar-shun, has consent to build 10,000 homes on the Greenwich peninsula, including three-bedroom apartments, with interiors designed by Conran & Partners, costing above £800,000.

More than a quarter of the homes in large developments of over 1,000 units in the capital are being built by foreign investors, according to data provided to the Guardian by Molior Consulting.”

Of course the Mayor of London, no doubt supported by the other parties are all in favour of this.

“Asked if Knight Dragon was trying to serve the overseas investment market with its 10,000-home scheme on the Greenwich peninsula, Richard Margree, its chief executive, said: “We want people to live on the peninsula and enjoy the lifestyle we will be creating. A site of this scale will appeal to a wide range of buyers.”

He stressed the project would provide jobs, leisure and cultural uses, offices, new schools, community and health services, plus accessible open spaces, but said it was too early to say at what level affordable rents would be set.

Tim Craine, director of Molior, a residential property research consultancy, confirmed the influx of Asian money was causing a surge in the number of homes being built but added: “They are being built at the wrong price. A one-bed flat for £1m is not going to solve anyone’s housing crisis.”

Asked about the “wrong price” claim, Margree said: “Our prices so far have ranged from £250,000 to £1.9m, to reflect a range of homes consistent with creating a balanced community.”

Richard Blakeway, London’s deputy mayor for housing, land and property, defended the scale of foreign investment. “With London facing unprecedented growth, foreign direct investment, together with traditional institutional finance, is helping to unlock developments that have stalled for many years, allowing thousands more homes to be built for Londoners far sooner than would otherwise be possible,” he said.”

Well we have heard all of this before about London and nothing has been done. The main parties are in hock to a neo-liberal economic policy that allows for, indeed encourages the free movement of labour and capital. So if rich investors want to buy up land and develop it for luxury housing so be it! Housing need? Do not be silly! What has that got to do with it?

All the usual arguments are put forward about the benefits of new developments. Not that we are unfamiliar with them. Thats what we get in Cornwall bogus statements in favour of bonkers housing targets. Its not need but greed that drives house building.

For more: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/dec/26/londoners-miss-out-as-foreign-investors-buy-up-home-sites

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