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Look to Hong Kong for the solution to the housing crisis

David Lammy calls it London’s ‘housing emergency’. He’s right. The housing crisis has been with us since the mid-70s but the planning profession only woke up to it around 2000.

London is encircled with 35,000 hectares of land within its boundary capable of accommodating 1.7 million homes even at the lowest densities. With the Home Counties Green Belt, this number rises to 25 million homes.

Those that prefer the status quo point to claims of a vast pipeline of unimplemented planning permissions. But the mathematics are false.

Meanwhile people my age (Generation X) and older people (Baby Boomers) can count housing equity as it accumulates, while the Millennials (people born after 1980) are left trying to calculate how they can save their 10% deposit fast enough to beat house price inflation which is, actually, impossible for most without State or family assistance. This is Generation Rent. Government policies have failed. Radical change is needed.

We have two problems:

  • the restrictions are placed in the way of development by planning policies from local Councils.
  • there is an absence of competition in the supply of land. The land owner takes the lion’s share of profit from the value chain because he has no competition. Even density is restricted.

We should look to Hong Kong for answers to this problem. There, the Government acted swiftly to provide a massive supply of land in the Northern Territories. That’s what we need now in London. That’s together with a liberalised and de-politicised planning system that focuses only on the design and build quality.


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Written by Scott Bailey | Posted on 12th March 2015

Scott Bailey is a property development manager for FirstBase, one of London’s leading design focussed developers. His background is in town planning and he specialises in large scale redevelopments in London. Scott has spent the last 20 years dealing with housing developments around London, has worked for the GLA and London Councils as well as London’s leading developers. He holds an MBA and is a chartered town planner.

Website: http://www.firstbase.com/