Saturday, March 17, 2007
Britain needs 5 million new homes and the property market is gridlocked by a massive shortage supply side shortage. Both of these stories explain almost nothing - or, rather, they explain the wrong things. The problems of the British housing market are nothing to do with shortage and everything to do with our sickly obsession with property. This, initially, drives up house prices. These capital gains become fixed as some kind of law of nature in the national psyche. As a result, everybody must own at least one house, preferably several. This creates an entirely artificial housing shortage which we must then solve by destroying more of the landscape with vile developments - British housing design has never been quite so bad. This is seen as virtuous because the legacy of Cathy Come Home still convinces us that building houses is some kind of unarguable social good. And so we build unnecessary houses, burning carbon on a scale which will offset the effects of all the initiatives of our newly green leaders. As James Lovelock always says, 'Save the planet? We never could save the planet.'
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 7:47 am