Monday, 2 June 2014
Home Sweet Home.
Hardly a day goes by without hearing that the housing crisis, especially in London and the South East, can only be solved by a massive house building program. Sure, the likes of Danny Dorling have been saying for some time that we have plenty of housing stock but that it all tends to be in the wrong place or that far too many dwellings are under occupied. The mainstream opinion however is that, partly in order to house all those immigrants, we just have to build more homes. Most politicians agree. Lack of investment, bureaucratic planning restrictions, selfish NIMBYs, Green Belt loving tree huggers, all conspire to prevent the huge building program that is our only hope. WE MUST BUILD MORE HOMES. But hang on a minute. Do any of these proponents of more building ever actually look up from their smartphones and have a look at the skyline? London is a forest of cranes with the city being virtually one big building site. Of course none of this building has anything to do with solving the housing shortage and many of the luxury flats being built will remain empty. This is all about international financial speculation and much of it is dirty money. Not content with being an offshore tax haven, UK is set to become the money laundering centre of the universe. Even retired City Of London chief planner Peter Wynne Rees, said in a recent interview that dirty Russian money and Chinese gamblers have priced Londoners out of the housing market. Miliband's threat to double the council tax of these foreign investors must have them quaking in their boots. Not all of the building industry however, is focused on the construction of mile high blocks of luxury apartments. For the small building firm, and there are a great many of them, the current craze for "extensions" is proving to be a gold mine. There was a time when the average homeowner might have considered adding an extra room or a loft conversion in order to meet the needs of a family that was growing. Today it's all about growing the value of your investment. Everyone, the shady foreign businessman stashing a few million away in the London property market, the buy to let landlord who knows that it beats working any day, the couple down the road gambling on a loan to have a third added to the size of their house paying off in a couple of years, everyone is behaving perfectly logically. It's the logic of the market place and unfortunately all the time that it prevails no amount of house building will halt the housing crisis. To do that we need to build in order to meet peoples needs rather than simply create profit. Oh! One more thing. These immigrants who are causing the housing shortage. Who do you think is actually building all this stuff anyway?