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To complain about the problem you’re complaining about being solved

Summary:
We expect this sort of behaviour from a politician or bureaucracy of course for if a problem is actually solved then there’s no more need for political oversight - interference we mean - nor the existence of the bureaucracy. But we would rather expect one of the country’s senior journalists to be able to do better than this:Developers are the booming winners in this stagnant decade, sitting on land-banks for a million homes, their executives rewarded in multiple millions.....Any remaining local control is dismissed as nimbyism, though records show that 90% of local planning permissions are granted.It also takes an average of five years to go from empty land to building starting such is the length of that planning process.Building completions are running at around - we’ve rounded the number

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We expect this sort of behaviour from a politician or bureaucracy of course for if a problem is actually solved then there’s no more need for political oversight - interference we mean - nor the existence of the bureaucracy. But we would rather expect one of the country’s senior journalists to be able to do better than this:

Developers are the booming winners in this stagnant decade, sitting on land-banks for a million homes, their executives rewarded in multiple millions.

....

Any remaining local control is dismissed as nimbyism, though records show that 90% of local planning permissions are granted.

It also takes an average of five years to go from empty land to building starting such is the length of that planning process.

Building completions are running at around - we’ve rounded the number just to make the maths easier - 200,000 a year.

It’s reasonable, actually in business terms we say this is the minimum requirement for being sensible, to have in stock whatever it is to cover you until it is possible to get some more. If steel takes 3 months from order to delivery then having 3 months of steel on hand is sensible. If land to build upon takes 5 years to get then a sensible - again, note, this is a minimum requirement - idea to have a five year supply to hand. If building is 200k a year and it takes 5 years to gain more plots then 1 million will be the stock at hand.

if the new planning system shortens that process then the land banks will diminish. Polly Toynbee - for of course it is her - is complaining about the solution to the very problem she is identifying. Not just to be contrary, but because she doesn’t understand the subject under discussion.

We wish we could be surprised at that last sentence.

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Tim Worstall
Tim Worstall is a British-born writer and Senior Fellow of the Adam Smith Institute. Worstall is a regular contributor to Forbes and the Register. He has also written for the Guardian, the New York Times, PandoDaily, the Daily Telegraph blogs, the Times, and The Wall Street Journal. In 2010 his blog was listed as one of the top 100 UK political blogs by Total Politics.

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