June 30, 2017

Time to ditch the green belt

Time to ditch the green belt

To prove they have listened to voters in the weeks after the general election, the Government should scrap the green belt rather than increase public spending, says Rory Broomfield. 

A Number 10 source yesterday said that the government was going to “listen to the messages that were sent at the election” and that “[the government] understands that people are weary after years of hard work to re-build the economy”. What he didn’t accept is that Number 10 has come up with the wrong solution.

The message sent by voters (especially young) was not that they were weary of austerity, but that they are tired of not having opportunities.

This is seen no more acutely in the area of housing where “Generation Rent” are increasingly unable to get onto the housing ladder.

With house prices still increasing at a rate that is outstripping wage growth, my generation are frustrated that they are unable to afford anywhere to buy. It means that the average first-time buyer in the UK is now going to be in their 30s, possibly waiting a decade longer than their parents would have done in the 1960s to leave the family home and become independent.

It translates to millions of people being unable to settle – unable to realise their dreams.

This problem is a chronic one and, with the population increasing due to good health and immigration, the difference between supply and demand of houses is growing – compounding both the problem and the frustration.

It means that the Conservative Party needs to have a rethink on policy.

Having accepted that their manifesto was unpopular with young people and that it didn’t effectively address the issue at hand on housing, the government needs to change its approach to provide opportunities akin to Margaret Thatcher’s “Right to Buy”.

In freeing up the UK’s planning laws to allow areas to expand, new towns to be built and new homes to be provided on green belt land, there wouldn’t just be the increased opportunity to buy a house and make a home but also the opportunity to buy a better house that meets, unlike tower blocks across the UK, basic living standards.

Even better still, by also giving the opportunities for businesses to expand and / or relocate on current green belt land, the Conservative Party would be freeing people to create a better life for themselves and their family as well.

The good news is that it seems to be going in that direction. In November last year, the Local Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid, said that government “should not stand in the way” of councils who propose green belt development.

The problem seems to be getting councils to allow for this to happen. For this, the Conservative Party as a whole needs to wake up and articulate, both from the top and the bottom of the party, the need to free up land.

This is a problem that can be solved both at the local and the national level. It just needs the desire to do it. If both Ministers and local councillors within the Conservative Party adopted a clear agenda of opening up the green belt to development, then they won’t just solve the chronic problem of housing but will be popular as well.

2.64 avg. rating (54% score) - 25 votes
Rory Broomfield
Rory Broomfield
Rory Broomfield is Director of The Freedom Association and the Better Off Out campaign. He is an authority on the EU and has written a number of books including his latest, co-authored with Iain Murray, Cutting the Gordian Knot: A Roadmap for British Exit from the European Union. He has previously worked in the City of London and in Westminster for a number of Members of Parliament, including the current Prime Minister, Theresa May; the current Chairman of the 1922 Committee, Graham Brady; and Sir Richard Shepherd.
  • Baz1875

    Like the ivory trade. Once you allow a trade in “plain ivory” or “vintage ivory” any ivory can be traded and it will be the same with our green belt.

  • Doctor Crackles

    Objectively Assessed Need (OAN) is based in part on immigration. Remove this and remove a large justification for such excessive building.

  • Revd Robert West

    We need to value and harness our Homeland, not desecrate and vandalize it. Our immigrants can go back to their own countries and build them up, not contribute to the spoiling of ours by overpopulation. The optimum population for Britain is 48 million. Let us STOP IMMIGRATION and promote EMIGRATION.

  • woolfiesmiff

    This is a ridiculous piece that once again misses the point

    1) Young people are late by nearly 10 years coming to the housing market because they start nearly 10 years late. I started work age 15 so had nearly 10 years of savings at the same age as a graduate just starting work

    2) The continuing demands of the electorate to spend more money on welfare, housing benefits etc has resulted in Government manipulating interest rates in order to borrow , therefore preventing young people saving enough for a deposit due to zero interest rates

    3) No amount of new house building in the South East will make up for the difficulties of saving for a deposit and getting a mortgage

    4) Schhhh dont mention the I word.

    5) As always with the housing market its about location, location, location. I just googled Right Move and Zoopla , I found dozens of homes for sale under £70,000 some on shared ownership as low as £20k

    6) Building more homes in the South East IS NOT curing supply and demand, it just increases the demand. i.e. More houses more people move here, prices still go up.

    To solve the housing dilemma requires radical thinking

    a) Longer ( inter generational mortgages)

    b) stop trying to send everyone to university and encourage people to do apprenticeships instead

    c) Stop manipulating interest rates and encourage savings with decent levels of return

    d) How about tax incentives for employers and employees to work from home , this is a biggie. People can live way outside the restricted SE, yet still work for London based business, Its good for the planet and traffic congestion and eases the commuter load on the railways.

    e) Stop importing vast amounts of people

  • Winston Churchill on Immigration
    “I am considering blocking all immigration to Britain because I fear a growing coloured population will pose a threat to Britain’s social stability.
    We do not want a parti-coloured UK.” –
    Winston Churchill, Cabinet Memorandum, dated February 1953.

    Yes, we were warned in the 1950s.

  • MULTICULTURALISM IS GENOCIDE activist pack – leaflets stickers note stamp http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/-/162557894316?roken=cUgayN

  • gram64

    It would not at all be ‘extremely popular’. It would be extremely unpopular with the vast majority of Conservative voters, would destroy Tory votes wholesale in rural areas, and would also be no less unpopular with most leftists, who are by nature also environmentally minded. In any case, such a disastrous policy, concreting over huge areas of our ever-diminishing green ‘lungs’, is totally unnecessary. As Sir Simon Jenkins pointed out at great length, and many times, we have more than enough brownfield sites to meet all our housing needs .https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/sep/30/housing-crisis-policy-myth-realities

    We must have the common sense to visualise what this country might look like in 50, 100, 500, 1,000 years time. If idiots like Rory Broomfield have their way there’ll be no liveable future for Britain whatsoever. It will be concreted over from end to end.

  • Stop importing the Third World and we have all the housing we need.
    GOOGLE KALERGI PLAN.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/08271fb7a094a84d6a52f3bd28968c9eeaa6841110114c8511654bf0d9cf9575.jpg

  • abragan

    “Britain ‘is on the brink of the worst house price collapse since 1990s’: Experts predict property costs could plunge by FORTY PER CENT and leave millions with negative equity”.

    Six months and there’ll be a surplus of houses, and you’ll have something else to moan about.

  • There is no housing crisis. There is only an immigration crisis.

  • Ominous

    Population growth is driven exclusively by immigration and the resulting children immigrants have – almost all of whom come from countries of one particular religion – the welfare state facilitates continued population growth of the immigrant origin demographic. Any new homes built will essentially be for the burgeoning Muslim population. How about the government stops paying poor people with our tax money to have children and paying for them to live in places they can’t afford to live? In fact why not stop importing people from countries that have people with a propensity for overpopulation? We don’t have enough water or produce enough food to cater for the type of population growth which is forecast. Let’s wake up to reality instead of prolonging a delusion.

  • Dynamo11

    There’s a better way to free up new homes for our young people and it’s not by tarmacking the countryside, indeed it is the mere existence of the Green Belt which has helped to temper the rot that has set in to most of our cities

  • Alan Beresford B’Stard

    That says something John ; !

  • Peter Parker

    Disagree. We should be reducing the population of this country, which supermarkets and logistics chains know to be c.80million. There are at least five million people in this country – probably nearer 10 – who shouldn’t be here. That’s a lot of property. Also, we should be capping child benefit at two children. Having six kids – rich or poor – is a nonsense, and more so if you expect other people to pay for them. A proper analysis, conclusion and execution of a fit-for-purpose immigration policy could free up – literally – millions of properties in a very short space of time. Like Australia, asylum seekers should be held in safety offshore until their fairy stories unravel.

  • Pat

    The immigrants are here.
    Our choices are to endure ever rising house prices and hence lower housing quality, late family formation and homelessness forever: to deport a few million people; or to build a lot of homes, many but not all will have to be on green belt land.
    So no good options, but the last seems the least bad to me, by a long way. Mass deportation on that scale has happened, eg when the Czechs threw out their German minority after 1945, but they are difficult in practice, require overwhelming support from the rest of the population, and inevitably are inhumane.
    Simply tolerating a housing shortage is also inhumane, and will not be politically acceptable for much longer.
    So yes, get building.
    Of course a check on future immigration is necessary so we’re not running up a down escalator. Perhaps replacing welfare with workfare, and not offering any to non citizens would be enough to do the trick.

  • Daniel

    The point in the Green Belt is that it is designed to protect against urban sprawl, it is not only important to have a place to live but to have a good place to live. People need a good mix of rural, sub-urban and urban dwellings, most young people want to live in a vibrant urban community not a housing estate stuck between two towns. All urban sprawl does is to destroy the distinctiveness and communities of towns and cities by creating a never ending semi-urban mess. It provides no community of its own, no public facilities and no space for businesses

    Additionally, Green Belt provides areas for city dwellers to walk, cycle and to enjoy and engage with the countryside. What is needed is properly-developed, locally-lead, aesthetic small new towns with integrated local villages, micro-business parks and hamlets, and they need to be built away from each other and existing towns so as to avoid the problems listed above.

    The real issue here though is not that we have an under-supply of homes but that we have over-demand. We cannot keep building houses in order to satisfy ever increasing demand, it is simply unsustainable. There are two main factors in the over-demand for housing, the first is immigration, low levels of immigration are generally beneficial but when it’s official levels are in the hundreds of thousands is it any wonder that we cannot provide enough housing? Secondly, the break down of families is a major cause of the crisis. People are living alone or in couples until their 30s then marrying, divorcing, and in ‘need’ of two family houses for when the children stay with the father, all of which leads to greater demand for housing.

  • Kaiser

    ohhh what a mess the liblabcons have made of this country, masses of immigrants require houses and your answer is to concrete over the entire country, the green belt was created with good reason to stop the horrible mass expansion of concrete

    meanwhile masses of the indigenous youth and many coming in will spend there lives on minimum wage as the supply side of workers keeps increasing and still wont be able to afford a house.

    its time to get real and realise immigration has to stop and our children get properly trained and properly paid for quality jobs, we have quite enough baristas with degrees thanks very much

  • discoveredjoys

    Apparently Japan, which has little immigration and a declining population, has many ’empty’ houses in the countryside but 3 main areas of urban growth. Cities that permit easy demolition and new building to cater for people seeking a life away from the country.

    I’d guess we should also look at reviewing planning permission in the UK at the same time as releasing some green belt land. I’m not arguing for building high rise accommodation in cathedral closes, but a lot of the existing urban sprawl could be redeveloped into more modern and compact housing for those that wanted it.

  • discoveredjoys

    There are plenty of bits of the green belt(s) that are just open space with no redeeming features, except to push up housing prices and keep separate towns and villages that would normally have merged. Freeing up just a few percent of the green belt(s) *carefully* would preserve the best countryside yet provide enough areas for house building over the next few years, relieving pressure on housing availability and traffic problems within towns.

  • Dweller

    If this is the conclusion that the Conservative Party has reached from the election, then you are in even more trouble that I thought.

    First, let’s deal with your argument on housing. High prices are caused by two main factors: 1. Unsustainable population growth (official figures of 350,000 p.a. net immigration; true figures (look at the methodology used to gather the official figures), 500,000 – 1,000,000 p.a.). 2. Unsustainable growth in money supply for borrowing (9 years of ultra low interest rates, much QE) allowing many people to own multiple properties on BTL. So we have a supply issue (too many people and too much money). The solution to rebalance is to restrict the number of people coming here and to raise interest rates. This will lower house prices by around 25%.

    Second, “young people” will never vote for the Conservatives. You could promise them a free house, car and holiday and they still wouldn’t. Why? Because Labour would promise too houses, two cars and two holidays. A lot of the issue with regard to “generation rent” is that it is an instant consumption culture and they are not, in the main, prepared to save money. Since when were houses so cheap that people can just go out and buy them? Never. “Generation rent” have regular holidays, often sabbaticals (!), to India, Asia, Australia etc., they have PCP’d cars, attend hugely expensive events such as Glastonbury, drink in eye-waveringly expensive bars in Brixton and live month-to-month. Saving for a deposit on a house is supposed to be difficult. The university graduates in “generation rent” have horrific savings rates and building more houses will not suddenly change this attitude.

    Finally, the reason that local councils in the green belt don’t want building on the green belt is because local residents who elect the councils don’t want building on the green belt. Implying that the local councils should be over-ruled by a central government is the antithesis of the principle of devolution. So we have a situation whereby the Conservative Party is advocating increased autonomy for “city regions” by creating mayors with large powers, budgets and areas yet in this article you are implying that autonomy on planning permission should be removed from local councils in the green belt.

    You need to consider what the Conservative Party is now offering its core vote in its desperate bid for the votes of people that will never vote for it full stop. The party now a days seems to stand for corporatism, statism, interventionism and paternalism. Its main selling point is that it isn’t Labour on the economy but it is Labour on everything else. That isn’t good enough.

  • berosos_bubos

    The Conservative party is in the process of making itself extinct over it’s lax control of immigration and access to public services. This massive new demand for public services means even when they are being cut for British people the accounts can never be balanced which will result in everyone voting left to save them, misguided as that will be.

  • berosos_bubos

    Why not use deportation as a means to free up housing ?

  • Blowmedown

    Time to ditch the Climate Change Act, reduce taxes on energy; freeing people from the tyranny of high charges for basic utilities and release the potential within our country.

  • 1NationConservative

    Quite John.

    Let them eat [my buy-to-let] rent!

  • 1NationConservative

    Never!

    If you are a real conservative white man Rory, you shall simply inherit your parents lovely Home Counties mansion when they pop off. Problem solved.

    Toodle pip.

  • Neil2

    Yeah. Let’s rape the countryside because morons in government have let in millions more people than the country can cope with and and the yoof would rather blame not getting free stuff than the obvious cause.

  • Corbyn’s Jockstrap

    Crime is not caused by law.
    Even if it were not illegal to destroy our green places, a serious crime would have been committed against the indigenous British if this were to be done.

  • Corbyn’s Jockstrap

    It’s more than a million every three years. It’s a million plus 750k illegals every three years.

    We in a lot of trouble.

  • Daniel

    The point in the Green Belt is that it is designed to protect against urban sprawl, it is not only important to have a place to live but to have a good place to live. People need a good mix of rural, sub-urban and urban dwellings, most young people want to live in a vibrant urban community not a housing estate stuck between two towns. All urban sprawl does is to destroy the distinctiveness and communities of towns and cities by creating a never ending semi-urban mess; it provides no community of its own, no public facilities and no space for businesses. Green Belt additionally provides areas for city dwellers to walk, cycle and to enjoy and engage with the countryside. What is needed is properly-developed, locally-lead, aesthetic small new towns with integrated local villages, micro-business parks and hamlets, and they need to be built away from each other and existing towns so as to avoid the problems listed above.

    The real issue here though is not that we have an under-supply of homes but that we have over-demand, we cannot keep building houses in order to satisfy ever increasing demand it is simply unsustainable. There are two main factors in the over-demand for housing, the first is immigration, low levels of immigration are generally beneficial but when it’s official levels are in the hundreds of thousands is it any wonder that we cannot provide enough housing? Secondly, the break down of true families is a major cause of the crisis. People are living alone or in couples until their 30s then marrying, divorcing, and in ‘need’ of two family houses for when the children stay with the father, all leading to greater demand for housing.

  • Bardirect

    the disillusioned young don’t want to live in the green belt but adjacent to their colleges or work and where they socialise. Many high streets continue to have ground floor commercial premises and shops, above which there are empty 2-3 floors which used to be office space which is now rarely used or even accessible because the shop fronts have taken over the separate entrances which used to exist. There ought to be a system for registering such premises with a view to bringing them back into lawful use, before squatters find them and acquire title after 12 years of neglect.

  • Fissionchips

    . . they are even stealing the air that we wish to breath

  • Hightrees

    A shortsighted view.
    New homes are continually being built in and around London but there is no room for new infrastructure to support the increased population. Everyone wants to get into London and while new houses are being built and the population increases, there is simply no more room to build more train lines and roads into central London. More people all crowding into the same place means transport links are all massively overcrowded and in the case of roads mostly unusuable at certain times. More housing will simply aggravate these problems.
    Solutions: (1) move as many government activities as possible to other cities; (2) incentivise new investment away from London; (3) concentrate new infrastructure away from London to make cities elsewhere realistic alternatives; and (4) reduce the population (i.e. reduce immigration).

  • John C

    The stupidest thing on the internet.

  • ethanedwards2002

    Absolutely NOT. Control the borders deport illegals and you’ll free up space.
    Stealing space from all of us is a dreadful mistake.

  • Nockian

    Somewhat. People come here because of the welfare state and are then part of the system which means the asset owning classes can get hold of tax payers money for housing the new under class.

    Terminate the welfare state, or collapse the monetary bubble and that will end.

  • Nockian

    That’s a sticking plaster on a country which has embraced corporate welfarism through monetary expansion in order to boost asset prices, whilst embracing public welfarism which kicks away the bottom rungs of the ladder making those in the productive sector slaves of both upper and lower classes of society.

    The reason homes are so expensive is to to with the creation of bubbles in those areas closest to where the monetary spigots deluge unbacked, fraudulent fiat onto the economy. It means that homes have once again become speculative assets on which a new economy has been spawned. This new industry is sucking in millions of people to serve the asset owning classes. These people can’t afford the assets, but can’t find employment outside the bubble, so they keep pouring in.

    We don’t have a housing crises, we have Classic mal-investment created by central banks and Government policy. Take away the monetary drug and the smoke and mirrors wizardry and the bubble will collapse. Asset prices will collapse along with all the industry created along with it. Debts will come due and banks that have been on life support for years will go to the wall as the assets on which their lending is predicated no longer act as collateral for the loan. The whipped up market will unwind and the pressure on housing will ease and people will wonder where on earth the ‘crisis’ went.

  • Richie P

    To save the patient it was necessary to kill him. Catastrophically misguided thinking. The problem lies in the fact that there are just too many people on the island. Managed population decline is an obvious though for some reason unthinkable requirement in post-industrial countries. Concreting over huge chunks of Wiltshire or Suffolk is entirely self-defeating.

  • forgotten_man

    If you want to see what no green belt looks like look at Tokyo from google earth.

    Nearer to home look at Spain when you drive away from the coast.

  • thamesmud

    It would be a good idea for SOME of the London MGB to be used for housing within the M25 . At least this would prevent London exporting its problem to the rest of the home counties with the attendant road and rail congestion. I do agree though that fixing the numerous poison challis’s bequeathed to us by the Attlee administration are electoral suicide.

  • Lord Effingham

    Broomfield, you’re an idiot. Taking the builder’s shilling, are we?

  • Paul Williams

    Preserving the green belt, or appeasing Third World mass immigration. Hhhhmmm, tough one that.

  • LoveMeIamALiberal

    Mass immigration began in 1997 when New Labour came to power; before then immigration and emigration were roughly in balance. The problem is that more people (obviously the younger ones, anyone under 30) are finding it difficult to imagine a world without mass immigration as they have no recollection of what it was like before this time.

  • Sir_Hugo_Baskerville

    Great idea – concrete it all over to build houses for all the Africans flooding into Europe.

  • Bill

    I agree. Isn’t it true that most immigrants, both legal and illegal, make first for Greater London, thus rendering the south east even less tolerable?

  • C A Dark

    Only people without a soul could recommend building all over the green belt. So what is the vision….concrete from Lands End to John O Groats, with a few manicured little grass banks in between. as a token gesture? What kind of a country is that? An urbanite’s dream but a true Englishman’s nightmare. Who wants to live in a country with no trees, parks, lakes, wild places or wildlife? People dream of things other than mere money and possessions. The elephant in the room that no-one wants to deal with is immigration; pure and simple.

  • gs_schweik

    Any particular firm sponsoring you or just the building business in general?

  • George Scoresby

    I was just trying to make the same sort of point. London without the green belt would be unbearable.. The over-crowding of the south east is already barely tolerable.

  • Rzzr

    The green belt was bought in because property developers were getting out of hand. If you ask a visitor to this country it is what makes Britain beautiful, unlike parts of the USA which is an urban sprawl. Doing away with it would be disastrous and wouldn’t solve any problems.
    I Googled the authors book, no sign of it on Amazon or any other media. Suspect it was a print run of 10 for family and friends.

  • realarthurdent

    “This problem is a chronic one and, with the population increasing due to good health and immigration, the difference between supply and demand of houses is growing”

    The overwhelming reason for the increasing housing demand is immigration of 1,000,000 people every three years since not only does it boost the population immediately, the influx of young fertile immigrants, especially those from Africa and South Asia is also boosting the birth rate.

    Britain, and more specifically England, is already an extremely overcrowded place and, without planning controls like those preventing green belt development, most of England will soon be covered in urban sprawl, particularly if immigration continues unchecked as it currently is.

    So, Mr Broomfield – you are completely wrong. We need the green belt for the physical and mental health of our population, and the first thing we need to do to address the “housing crisis” is to dramatically reduce the numbers of immigrants we are allowing to settle here.

  • CommanderJampot

    I rather preserve the greenbelt and reduce immigration to 25-50 thousand, stop immigration from countries deemed to be producing terrorists and focus on more skilled Commonwealth immigration. Deport illegals and foreign criminals.

    Thus we would no need to ditch the green belt.

  • Alan Beresford B’Stard

    What you are advocating is criminal vandalism on a massive scale. Don’t be so daft ! ……..Any sensible person knows we have a massive problem of supply and demand with housing, particularly in the very overcrowded south-east. While there is no easy answer, it is my belief that mass immigration is the source of our problem and in short it has to be stopped. In short it is totally unsustainable and your answer is the very worst option. London is far too big and overpopulated as it is , so you think “I know let’s make London even bigger” , they’ll be no Herts, Surrey, Sussex, Kent, Essex. All these beautiful counties with their woods/nature, parks, green spaces will be subsumed and bulldozed/concreted over by the London megapolis, like a ravenous monster that keeps getting fatter and fatter while ruining the rest of the country…. Oh that’s really smart!!! BTW – it will also be toxic and political suicide for any govt. The Tories if you haven’t noticed are in a slightly precarious position and by doing this they would kiss goodbye to all their MPs outside London. UKIP would be born again….. Have you really thought this through , either socially, economically or politically ? (nope!)

  • Bill

    I’m not sure of your point, George.

    I’d much rather see a genuine attempt to cut immigration by offering jobs to indigenous British citizens. I’ve never seen the point of keeping wages down across the board by importing tens of thousands of immigrants to do manual labour while taxing working people to pay for our own population to sit on the dole. If we build on the green belt our unique countryside heritage is destroyed for ever, not to mention our wildlife and disappearing plants and trees. I say NO to wrecking the green belt.

  • Adam Peak

    Cobblers. Build on any grren belt like me against the wishes of the community and I’ll slaugtther you till you’re dead.

  • George Scoresby

    Time to leave his hellhole.

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