How the Greens can build 500,000 council houses

The place for serious discussion, announcements and breaking news about Sydenham

Moderator: frenzarin

Tim Lund
Posts: 6704
Joined: 13 Mar 2008 18:10
Location: Silverdale

How the Greens can build 500,000 council houses

Post by Tim Lund »

It's worth reading this blog published yesterday by Tom Chance, Green Party housing spokesperson, and our local candidate

Here’s how the Greens can build 500,000 council houses in five years

in response to a previous post on the same site

The Green Party ‘manifesto’ is the type of rubbish that inspires irresponsibility from real political parties

Tom Chance concludes
So is our policy broadly realistic? Yes. Are there lots of potential complications to iron out? Undoutedly, as with all bold policy proposals.

But all of that nitpicking is a distraction from the main purpose of our manifesto pledge: to champion social housing, and reassert that part of the solution to our housing crisis must be a collectively funded house building programme for those on low incomes.
I guess questions such as
  • Where will the houses be built, and how will the concerns of existing residents there be addressed?
  • How easily will these proposals get through planning?
  • Why was it that building of council housing dried up in the first place?
  • Do all the young people needing new housing actually want to live in council housing?
are just nit-picking.

_HB

Re: How the Greens can build 500,000 council houses

Post by _HB »

Tim Lund wrote:I guess questions such as

Where will the houses be built, and how will the concerns of existing residents there be addressed?
How easily will these proposals get through planning?
Why was it that building of council housing dried up in the first place?
Do all the young people needing new housing actually want to live in council housing?

are just nit-picking.
Yes - But in order:

- Brownfield sites and increased density on existing sites. Tough.
- With some difficulty. Planning reform needed.
- Not a question for your Green candidate.
- With a coherent R2B policy? Definitely.

Tim Lund
Posts: 6704
Joined: 13 Mar 2008 18:10
Location: Silverdale

Re: How the Greens can build 500,000 council houses

Post by Tim Lund »

OK, and herewith responses
  • Brownfield sites and increased density on existing sites. Tough. - Agreed, but I would like to see Tom Chance identify possible actual sites in this constituency where he would accept more housing. It can be done
  • With some difficulty. Planning reform needed. - Agreed too
  • Not a question for your Green candidate. - I think this is a reasonable question to ask anyone who pontificates on housing. Those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat its mistakes
  • With a coherent R2B policy? Definitely - I assume the :wink: emoticon was missing

_HB

Re: How the Greens can build 500,000 council houses

Post by _HB »

Tim Lund wrote:Those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat its mistakes
Yeah fair enough. And I did think that's what you were getting at.
Tim Lund wrote: I assume the emoticon was missing
Housing is far too serious a business for things like emoticons Tim.

:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

leenewham
Posts: 5886
Joined: 2 Sep 2007 11:58
Location: SYDENHAM
Contact:

Re: How the Greens can build 500,000 council houses

Post by leenewham »

Tim Lund wrote: I think this is a reasonable question to ask anyone who pontificates on housing. Those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat its mistakes[/i]
In that case:
Why was it that building of council housing dried up in the first place Tim?

Tim Lund
Posts: 6704
Joined: 13 Mar 2008 18:10
Location: Silverdale

Re: How the Greens can build 500,000 council houses

Post by Tim Lund »

leenewham wrote:
Tim Lund wrote: I think this is a reasonable question to ask anyone who pontificates on housing. Those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat its mistakes[/i]
In that case:
Why was it that building of council housing dried up in the first place Tim?
You've not been following the discussion, have you?

I think this is an underresearched area, but the point I made Monday about the impact of post war inflation feels to me, ATM, as a pretty good explanation. It is probably the main reason Nottingham sold off your granddad's council home to him, in combination with the terms of his tenancy. I'm guessing a bit - that's what I mean by it being underresearched.

I've also argued that the fragmentation of freeholds, which started with leasehold reform, contributed to the increasing difficulties of getting new housing built, by increasing the power of the Nimby.

Nimbyism explained?

This didn't directly affect Council house building, but it was part of a similar move towards more individual housing provision, which Mrs Thatcher took up with such alacrity in the 1980s with her version of Right to Buy. That made things a whole lot worse, but I think it's misleading just to demonise the ogress.

I've heard other suggestions such as the increasing skill of Nimbies in using the planning process to frustrate development - which I think is a factor - and changes to demographics - the ending of the baby boom, so lowered central housing needs estimate - which might have had some effect, but less so, I think.

It's not just that I want my fellow citizens to have decent homes that I am so interested in housing - I also find it a really interesting intellectual question, which requires thinking not just about economics, but also taking town planning seriously, and understanding politics and recent history.

leenewham
Posts: 5886
Joined: 2 Sep 2007 11:58
Location: SYDENHAM
Contact:

Re: How the Greens can build 500,000 council houses

Post by leenewham »

I see lots of words but not point.

Is it just me?

Anyone?

Robin Orton
Posts: 3277
Joined: 9 Sep 2008 07:30
Location: London SE26

Re: How the Greens can build 500,000 council houses

Post by Robin Orton »

Obviously high levels of inflation will have had some influence on house prices. But perhaps Tim could explain why they will also have had an impact on the number of council houses being built. ('Why was it that building of council housing dried up in the first place'?)

Tim Lund
Posts: 6704
Joined: 13 Mar 2008 18:10
Location: Silverdale

Re: How the Greens can build 500,000 council houses

Post by Tim Lund »

Because, I suspect, rents could not rise in line with cost inflation for the local authority housing departments. The regulated rents applied to the private rented sector made that unprofitable, and I doubt that council rents could rise faster, so they too would have started to lose money. And so Councils would have been reluctant to build more, and actually start selling off to sitting tenants.

Robin Orton
Posts: 3277
Joined: 9 Sep 2008 07:30
Location: London SE26

Re: How the Greens can build 500,000 council houses

Post by Robin Orton »

Why couldn't council house rents rise - local political pressures or constraints imposed by central government? And are you saying that because council house rents couldn't rise, LAs didn't have enough money in their housing accounts to be able to build new houses and that that was why they didn't do so?

Tim Lund
Posts: 6704
Joined: 13 Mar 2008 18:10
Location: Silverdale

Re: How the Greens can build 500,000 council houses

Post by Tim Lund »

Robin Orton wrote:Why couldn't council house rents rise - local political pressures or constraints imposed by central government? And are you saying that because council house rents couldn't rise, LAs didn't have enough money in their housing accounts to be able to build new houses and that that was why they didn't do so?
Both those reasons. I don't know what the terms of Council house tenancies were, but they might have limited rent rises, but in any case, raising rents would have been politically difficult, and more so for Labour councils, who would also have been more committed to building more social housing. So the constraints imposed on such Councils - remember Clay Cross? - would have come from Central government.

And having looked at that Wikipedia link to Clay Cross, I discover the trigger was the Council's refusal to increase Council house rents. Why would there have been any need to increase rents if it wasn't for inflation?

I suspect also that having an older generation of social housing tenants whose relatively low rents are the consequence of when they became tenants creates difficulties offering new social tenancies; if offered at the same levels, then the housing provider will lose money, but if only offered at higher rents - so called affordable, up to 80% of market rents - then it is intergenerationally unfair.

An intractable problem, I think, which puts the difficulties of overcoming the Nimbies' problems with social tenants blocking their views into perspective. So let's get on with building the decent, modest, new homes this new and future generations of our fellow citizens will want, properly planned of course, and put silly ideological arguments about tenure type and public or private sector behind us.

Robin Orton
Posts: 3277
Joined: 9 Sep 2008 07:30
Location: London SE26

Re: How the Greens can build 500,000 council houses

Post by Robin Orton »

Tim Lund wrote: So let's get on with building the decent, modest, new homes this new and future generations of our fellow citizens will want, properly planned of course, and put silly ideological arguments about tenure type and public or private sector behind us.
Who are the 'we' who are going to do the building? And will the new homes be for sale or (subsidised?) rent? Or are these questions which lead us into 'silly ideological arguments'? (Personally, I quite like ideology.)

leenewham
Posts: 5886
Joined: 2 Sep 2007 11:58
Location: SYDENHAM
Contact:

Re: How the Greens can build 500,000 council houses

Post by leenewham »

Sounds like the 50's and 60's all over again.

Nitpicking again Robin? How dare you ask a sensible question! Just build homes, loads of them. Stick them in the green belt build them on top of your home, in your garden, put them everywhere, even if they all cost a million each, somehow that will push house prices down just because there are lots of them, even if bought by investors and rented out. Just build more, It's what Tim and every politician knows will solve the problem. Shelter and other groups saying it's more than just supply are just plain wrong!

Tim Lund
Posts: 6704
Joined: 13 Mar 2008 18:10
Location: Silverdale

Re: How the Greens can build 500,000 council houses

Post by Tim Lund »

For the benefit of Lee, this is my earlier response to him on another thread
In brief
  • what sorts of houses
    decent, modest and flexible with environmentally sustainable design & materials, as required by planning officers
  • how much they will sell for -
    market price, whatever that is, but the gain resulting from the granting of planning permission should be captured by the local authority. If sold to housing associations or other responsible landlords, then long term subsidies should be available to cover the discounted present value of the gap between the costs of maintaining decent accommodation and the rents which the poorest tenants will be able to pay. The planning gain captured by local authorities should also be paid over the such responsible landlords, as a reserve against likely write down to their book costs as the undersupply of housing ends, and property looses its premium value
  • how we make them affordable or what is affordable.
    We will not be able to make properties affordable overnight, although a credible policy of increasing supply will remove a speculative element to pricing immediately. In the long run, increased supply will bring down the prices to a genuinely affordable level.
  • who they are for.
    Anyone who wants to live here
  • who can buy them
    All those people who currently manage to find the money needed to live in London, but getting progressively better value for their money as supply increases and prices and rents come down
  • how this is sustainable in the long term.
    There are any number of new technologies allowing higher housing densities with modern building materials and construction techniques.
  • how long on can keep on growing despite limited infrastructure for travel into central london at rich hour.
    Because infrastructure for travel is not limited in the long run - noticed any new tube lines built and now under construction? Noticed the increasing numbers of people cycling? Follow @sustaincities for more
  • how many extra schools, nurseries, hospitals, surgeries, colleges, transport links, roads etc are needed and paid for.
    From planning gain and increased future tax receipts
I do not say the problem is just about supply, and I do give answers to his questions.

Shelter is also very clear that this is principally a problem of supply. That's why their head of policy, Toby Lloyd, tweets in this way

Image

We will see the mistakes of the 50s & 60s all over again if policy is made by those who refuse to learn from experience.

Robin Orton
Posts: 3277
Joined: 9 Sep 2008 07:30
Location: London SE26

Re: How the Greens can build 500,000 council houses

Post by Robin Orton »

Tim Lund wrote: I do not say the problem is just about supply, and I do give answers to his questions.
Not to mine, though. Should we assume that you believe that all new housing should be built, for sale, by commercial developers?

And what exactly were 'the mistakes of the fifties and sixties'?

leenewham
Posts: 5886
Joined: 2 Sep 2007 11:58
Location: SYDENHAM
Contact:

Re: How the Greens can build 500,000 council houses

Post by leenewham »

The mistakes of the 50s' and 60's were clearing houses and moving families all over London to build new blocks and hi-rises that were poorly designed, bad town planning, buildings that didn't last, many badly built often with toxic substances, were badly managed and became crime ridden holes.

Many buildings that gave areas a sense of place were destroyed, communities displaced and broken up.

In theory the ideas were good, in practice it was hardly ever done properly.

Robin Orton
Posts: 3277
Joined: 9 Sep 2008 07:30
Location: London SE26

Re: How the Greens can build 500,000 council houses

Post by Robin Orton »

Indeed. If that's all Tim means, I agree with him.

Tim Lund
Posts: 6704
Joined: 13 Mar 2008 18:10
Location: Silverdale

Re: How the Greens can build 500,000 council houses

Post by Tim Lund »

Robin Orton wrote:
Tim Lund wrote: I do not say the problem is just about supply, and I do give answers to his questions.
Not to mine, though. Should we assume that you believe that all new housing should be built, for sale, by commercial developers?
In the sense of ones whose business model is financially sustainable, then yes; in the sense of in the private sector, no. In principle I'm agnostic, but in practice, I recognise that most development would be done by private sector companies, although this could be as agents rather than principals.
Robin Orton wrote:And what exactly were 'the mistakes of the fifties and sixties'?
What Lee explains, and where I happen to agree with him.

I modified what he originally wrote to specify "the mistakes of ..." because it's a bit rash to suggest everything which happened in those decades in housing was mistaken. I think most people would say it started off quite well, with housing such as this

Image

Source here

Yes - I know Nye Bevan was responsible for housing in the 40s, but that's the style of housing which would have been going up at the start of the 50s. Looking it up on Wikipedia, this is interesting
Bevan's rate of house-building was seen as less of an achievement than that of his Conservative (indirect) successor, Harold Macmillan, who was able to complete some 300,000 a year as Minister for Housing in the 1950s. Macmillan was able to concentrate full-time on Housing, instead of being obliged, like Bevan, to combine his housing portfolio with that for Health (which for Bevan took the higher priority). However critics said that the cheaper housing built by Macmillan was exactly the poor standard of housing that Bevan was aiming to replace. Macmillan's policies led to the building of cheap, mass-production high-rise tower blocks, which have been heavily criticised since (arguably due to many of them degenerating into new slums).
I'm not sure that that style of housing would be the best model for today; now we need to plan for more flexibility, higher densities and newer, more environmentally sustainable materials, but just because people like me say we need more housing now, it's hardly fair to say we want to repeat whatever sorts of error Harold Macmillan was responsible for. That's why organisations such as Shelter come up with proposals, such as they did for last year's Wolfson Prize, of a new town on the Hoo Peninsula in Kent. As it happens, I think the winner - a plan for the expansion of a lightly fictionalised Oxford - was better conceived, since it builds on the strength of an existing, successful urban centre. What I haven't seen yet, is a good long term plan for a large metropolitan area such as London, whose size means that densification of existing developed areas is required.
Last edited by Tim Lund on 22 Apr 2015 12:20, edited 1 time in total.

leenewham
Posts: 5886
Joined: 2 Sep 2007 11:58
Location: SYDENHAM
Contact:

Re: How the Greens can build 500,000 council houses

Post by leenewham »

We have been looking at lots of property recently in different areas, and by far the best designs are Victorian/edwardian because of decent size gardens, easy to adapt, decent roof space, possibility to expand into the side return, decent size kitchen, ability to put a wc downstairs.

Post war houses work well too but tend to have really small third bedrooms.

60's and 70's town houses can be really good too, but some have really awkward layouts.

Over time it seems as if property has become less flexible for people to grow into and adapt to live in.

Robin Orton
Posts: 3277
Joined: 9 Sep 2008 07:30
Location: London SE26

Re: How the Greens can build 500,000 council houses

Post by Robin Orton »

Tim Lund wrote:
Robin Orton wrote:
Tim Lund wrote: I do not say the problem is just about supply, and I do give answers to his questions.
Not to mine, though. Should we assume that you believe that all new housing should be built, for sale, by commercial developers?
In the sense of ones whose business model is financially sustainable, then yes; in the sense of in the private sector, no. In principle I'm agnostic, but in practice, I recognise that most development would be done by private sector companies, although this could be as agents rather than principals.
You're being a bit evasive, Tim. Let me put it another way. Do you believe (like me) that a substantial proportion of the new houses we need should be built specifically for rent (with a local authority, housing association or similar body as landlord), with the rents kept below market rates, and therefore made affordable for poorer tenants, by some type of subsidy (either applied directly to the rent or through housing benefit) from public funds? Do you also believe (like me) that the 'right to buy' for social housing tenants is a perverse and malign policy which should be abolished? Yes or no please.

Post Reply