From Cornwall – a developers’ paradise?
So the Government has come up with yet another cunning plan to encourage more housebuilding. Communities Minister Sajid Javid is consulting on a new, simpler method of calculating housing targets to be applied across the board for housing targets to ensure that the ‘right homes [sic]’ get built in the ‘right places’. Bizarrely, in the newspeak that the political class is so keen on, this new centralised system of imposing housing targets will ‘give local communities greater control’.
In reality of course, as well as doing nothing of the kind, it also won’t result in the ‘right homes’ in the ‘right places’. This is because the Tories are still trapped by their ideological obsession with private market delivery. They cherish the delusion that their developer chums and their mates in the construction companies will ‘solve’ the housing crisis once and for all. If only they build enough new houses prices will plummet and everyone will then miraculously be able to afford a home.
The imposition of local targets, carefully calibrated for every local authority, implies that the Government thinks there are lots of tiny housing markets scattered across the land that respond solely to local supply and demand. The consultation document is backed up with technical reports that are in turn littered with questionable counter-factual data based on unproven assumptions. One such is the assertion that increasing housing stock by X% will then produce a X% price fall. If that were the case then Cornwall, which has seen a huge increase in its housing stock, at a faster rate than virtually all English counties since the 1960s, should have rock-bottom house prices.