Monday, 3 September 2018

Conservatives urging restrictive planning controls are planning their own demise

Liz Truss was right when she said that the Conservatives limpet-like attachment to uban containment policies would usher in a far left (and antisemitic) government:
In the early 2000s, there was only a weak connection between land-use restrictions and partisanship. Democratic places were only slightly more regulated than Republican ones. Interestingly enough, many towns that started out more Republican actually became more restrictive over time. This, for Sorens, is a key piece of evidence: “These data support the central claim of this paper: Democrats do not cause stricter zoning, but stricter zoning causes more Democrats (relative to Republicans),” he writes. In other words, when Republican towns increase land-use restrictions, they tend to drive away more Republicans.
I know this is the USA but the impact of urban containment policies is always to drive up land values (and rents and house prices) resulting in places where only the very rich and the poor can live. The less well off - especially the most marginalised such as immigrant groups, single parents and the disabled - live in social housing that is de facto reserved for such groups while the richest can afford the sky high prices and stratospheric rents. The most left-wing places in the USA are becoming, as a result of anti-development policies, the most segregated and most unequal.

As conservatives we should be pragmatic - if the result of such policies is the persistence of housing dependency for the less well off and, as reported recently, an explosion in wealth inequality as land values rocket then we should be looking for an answer that meets aspirations to own for as many as possible, that protects the poorest without enriching landlords and which doesn't featherbed the already rich. Right now, all we're getting is Onward proposing the extensive use of compulsory purchase to prevent landowners profiting from artificially expensive property as a result of those urban containment policies. Such an approach is little different from South African government seizing farms in the name of equality. Plus the, mostly left-wing run, councils in inner London will simply use the cash to shore up their client base through sustaining housing dependency.

Instead of allowing NIMBY residents on nice Surrey towns (and their MPs) to set the agenda, we should be doing was Liz Truss said and making it easier to develop in the city and easier to develop outside the city - if we don't we can expect to see the same happening to Conservative support in London as happened in Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Hull.


1 comment:

Curmudgeon said...

The reasons behind Conservative decline in cities like Liverpool and Manchester are rather different from London. It's not restrictive planning, it's economic decline and flight to the suburbsn beyond the boundary. There's no shortage of developable land in either city - it's just that better-off people in general don't want to live there. To see a more extreme example, look at Detroit.