Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Sometimes I just want to cry....


A tweet from Julian Dobson:

National Housing Federation wants public land released, but we should challenge private landbanking too - use it or lose it.

I read this. And then read it a second time. And then thought...what on earth, this man - a usually wise and thoughtful man - is talking about the confiscation of private property.

At the moment I live in a country where, if I choose to, I can buy a piece of development land and do absolutely nothing with it at all. This might be stupid. It is certainly a waste of money. But in Julian's world, I shouldn't be allowed to do this, it should be taken from me and given to someone else. Doubtless to some suitably cuddly, mutual, co-op sort of organisation filled with the righteously self-important.

...sometimes I just want to cry. Whatever happened to liberty?



Beleagured Activist said...

*Sigh* I'm with you on this Coun Cooke

Phil said...

Is it possibly referring to the practice of buying land to prevent competitors building on it? One of those anti-competitive practices that's difficult to prove/prevent.

Mike Chitty said...

In a world where too often the evil capitalists are accused of spoiling things through their demand for short term gains, the land-banking phenomena is an example of longer term profit chasing and investment.

Property and land are bought at the bottom of the market for development as the market is on the rise. This may take decades. And may involve convincing a complex web of stakeholders that 'the time is right'.

There has also been a long history of land being bought to limit the success with which others can develop their own sites.

Currently developers are being lauded for their magnanimity in allowing all sorts of 'meanwhile projects' to take place on sites that would otherwise be stagnant stains on what inward investment teams like to describe as our 'vibrant and thriving' city centres. Of course this is a game that politicians and developers only find worthwhile to play on premium, high profile sites.

I am with Simon in thinking that land 'confiscation' is unthinkable. But I am also with Julian and his sentiment that ownership with no intent to put to use is not only stupid, but damaging to the economy and community. It is anti-social behaviour.

If there was much more transparency and awareness of landbanking then perhaps we could bring more pressure to bear on owners and politicians to bring forward productive development. And none of us should be overly moved by the developers 'generosity' in bringing forward 'meanwhile projects'. That really is trying to feast on the crumbs.

And, rather than confiscation perhaps compulsory purchase might be a way forward. This works well when we are 'developing' divided disorganised and poor communities. But I suspect that attempts to use it with powerful investors and developers may prove MUCH more expensive and may lead to a distinct dirth of future inward investments, as word of this use it or lose it approach got around.

But that may not be such a bad thing, forcing us to look at strategies of economic gardening rather than hunting.

John Loony said...

"Private landbanking"? That's sounds like a term of Maoist frenzyism if ever I heard one.