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Sir Simon gives us the establishment view of British housing

Summary:
Simon Jenkins tells us how things ought to be:The reality is that English housing policy is still in the dark ages. Jenrick should be promoting downsizing, taxes to discourage under-occupation, the renovation of old building and increasing housing density in suburbia. There is no need to build on greenfield rather than brownfield land anywhere in Britain. Ministers seem to think the only “real” house is a car-dependent executive home in a southern meadow. It is, as Jenrick says, a “dream” – but that is not a need.Ought to be from a disturbingly elitist position of course. The peasantry should live in smaller houses where the establishment damn well tells them to live.Which is to miss the point of having an economy, a civilisation, at all. That point being not simply to meet human needs.

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Simon Jenkins tells us how things ought to be:

The reality is that English housing policy is still in the dark ages. Jenrick should be promoting downsizing, taxes to discourage under-occupation, the renovation of old building and increasing housing density in suburbia. There is no need to build on greenfield rather than brownfield land anywhere in Britain. Ministers seem to think the only “real” house is a car-dependent executive home in a southern meadow. It is, as Jenrick says, a “dream” – but that is not a need.

Ought to be from a disturbingly elitist position of course. The peasantry should live in smaller houses where the establishment damn well tells them to live.

Which is to miss the point of having an economy, a civilisation, at all. That point being not simply to meet human needs. Instead, it is to gain the maximum amount of those things which humans would like to have. The maximum possible amount that is, for of course there are limitations set by such inconvenient facts as physics, the level of technology, the availability of resources (we do live in a universe of scarce resources after all) and so on.

Britain faces no shortage of land upon which housing could be built. No shortage of land upon which substantial houses with decent sized gardens can be built. The only limitation faced is the permission to be able to build upon the extant land.

….it is hard to see a vision of southern England as anything but open to a creeping, Los Angeles-style urban sprawl. This means ending 50 years of the once-prized divide between Britain’s towns and their surrounding countryside.

Prized by whom Sir Simon? The very argument used to insist upon the planning restrictions is that this is what people want. We wouldn’t have laws preventing development if development wouldn’t happen without said laws. Therefore the existence of, the argument in favour of, the limitations is to prevent people gaining more of what they desire.

And why is it that public policy should be specifically designed to prevent people gaining more of what they desire - houses they’d like to live in built in places they’d like to live?

Well, unless you’re the sort of elitist who insists that the peasantry should just live in whatever hovels the establishment might permit them to have.

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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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