You have to hand it to the man he is trying to fill the political vacuum that Worzel Gummage (the leader of the Labour Party) has created and what more important topic could he have found to attack than the desperate lack of new housing in the UK?
Invariably the Planning Departments of Councils across the UK have a left wing bent and, hitherto, social housing for rent has been a pre-requisite to a successful planning consent for private housing development.
Now, these newly proposed ‘starter homes’ will be available to purchase at a discount and owners will not be able to sell for some extended period of time. So, speculators and opportunists take note!
Often it is said that over the last 25 years the gap between the rich and the poor has widened. I would argue, however, that anyone with an asset (such as a house) has benefitted from the upswing in asset values and gained just like anyone else over this time. But, anyone on salary, renting a property, has lost out.
Working Class people who had the good sense to take out a mortgage to buy their council homes in Mrs. Thatcher’s era now have properties, in London for instance, which could be worth £500,000 to £1million. They don’t feel deprived and they are now part of the new Middle Class.
By equity release they are able to give their offspring a deposit for their first starter home. The system works!
The PM’s latest suggested reforms could help to provide up to 200,000 new homes; that is approximately double that of the past few years but still short of the 300,000 new homes that were built in the 50s. Nevertheless, it is a good start and a laudable aspiration for the much needed housing sector.
Permitted Development where existing offices could be converted into residential property very quickly (by-passing the lethargy of the Councils Planning Divisions) was the brainchild of the then Housing Minister Eric Pickles and what an elegant solution this provided at the time.
Now the government are constructively interfering further with the planning processes of the Councils and perhaps, eventually, they will work out that the Department of Environment should be expanded and all planning adjudications should be handled more efficiently by them without interference from the ‘dead hand’ of bureaucracy which is so apparent in our councils today.
Pandering to the environmentalists and ecologists is one thing but they now have such a profound effect on planning decisions that they effectively frustrate the process to the point of paralysis. It is no wonder that we have a housing shortage in this country!
The Prime Minister appears as if he is just ‘getting into his stride’ and his ambition to make his Party a ‘one nation government’ could well materialise, particularly, given the parlace state of the Labour and Lib Dem opposition.