As so often with housing, this is sticking plaster politics – dealing with symptoms rather than cause. Be under no illusion as to the scale of the crisis: there are said to be 5 million people waiting on registers, but well under half the number of new homes we need being built.
This is ruining life for countless families, squashed into inadequate properties, and paralysing possibilities for a generation in their 20s. It will get worse: last month's census figures revealed not just a growing population but a baby boom./facepalm
If we are assuming that the same portion of society that is having their life ‘ruined’ by inadequate housing is also responsible for the baby boom, then I’m afraid my sympathy well is well and truly tapped out….
But what to do about our ‘growing population’ (other than to completely avoid any examination of which sector it is that’s growing)?
Despite mostly living in urban areas, Britons adore the bucolic vision of their green and pleasant land, as displayed to the world in Danny Boyle's Olympic opening. Many foreign visitors commented on the lovely touch of wildflower meadows by the stadiums. But while surveys show most voters think more than two-thirds of their country's surface area has been concreted over, an idea promoted by campaigning green groups, less than one-tenth of England is in urban development and almost half this is gardens and parks.And…frankly, that’s enough. But not for Birrell, clearly.
This is a thorn in his side, a puzzle that must be solved. The answer will no doubt gladden Tim Worstall’s and Mark Wadsworth’s hearts…
If we want to resuscitate the moribund economy, we must recognise the impact of our anachronistic planning laws.Ahhh, yes. If we just build more and more houses, everything’ll be rosy!
There is a very obvious solution staring us in the face. Nearly half of England's land is protected. This includes wonderful national parks and important sites of special scientific interest. But the majority is green belt, that sanctified stuff of suburban dreams.
It is time to start building on this misnamed land that is constricting our economic – and often environmental – needs.Yes! To save our environment, we must concrete it over!