Fringe Box



Letter: Is Concreting Over the South-east of England Really The Answer?

Published on: 4 Jul, 2015
Updated on: 4 Jul, 2015

housing picFrom: Bernard Parke

Hon Alderman and former Mayor

In a recent national press report we are told that house prices in both Oxford and Cambridge have soared.

This is said to be due to the strong demand from students for accommodation in both cities. It is also said that another factor is cash rich buy-to-let investors who find the student need for housing an attractive market.

Such lets are mainly on a short-time basis which tends to give liquidity to such assets.

Buy-to-let, unlike unlike the traditional mortgage market, is unregulated and as such hits the owner-occupiers as both sectors are competing for the same properties. This in turn drives up the prices making homes even less “affordable”.

It would seem that Guildford is also subject to this trend, for we see such estates as Guildford Park Avenue and now Ashenden fast becoming student housing areas.

It is frequently stated that the answer is for us to build more houses, but would not such a policy lead to any new housing stock being subject to the same fate?

The country’s biggest buy-to-let landlord, Fergus Wilson has said in The Times (July 1) that Britain must “concrete over the south-east of England” to solve the housing crisis. Is that really the answer?

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Responses to Letter: Is Concreting Over the South-east of England Really The Answer?

  1. Nicholas Clarke Reply

    July 4, 2015 at 2:23 pm

    I think it makes sense to reclaim brownfield sites then build a small number of new towns rather than stretching the boundaries of existing towns beyond what their infrastructure can cope with.

    • Jim Allen Reply

      July 5, 2015 at 1:15 am

      Developers wanted to build five new towns around London in the early to mid 1980’s. We fought them on the lack of available infrastructure: gas, water and electricity. I am proud to say I was one of the objectors who put a stop to them blighting the countryside. There was no notable increase in rough sleepers.

      After they withdrew their plan and the minister, Nicholas Ridley, lost his job before he could overturn the inspector’s decision to reject this proposal. No increase in house prices occurred yet none went homeless.

      As for brownfield sites what about Moorfields sewage works? It was chosen in the 1890’s as a site which ‘ticked all the boxes’ to deal with Guildford’s sewage. Now someone thinks moving it to a site which ticks none of the boxes is a good idea.

      The definition of brownfield is any land that has been previously developed. That includes working factories providing jobs, offices and, in our case, the most important piece of infrastructure for the whole community – the sewage works.

      So brownfield sites are not the panacea to find housing land but a vague definition of land which most probably is still in use for some other reason other than housing.
      “Ratioed” numbers of new homes inside villages and towns is the answer with all parts of the borough taking their share.

  2. Bernard Parke Reply

    July 4, 2015 at 9:00 pm

    Yes, but who will buy them?

    Remember that cash-rich buy-to-let landlords get tax relief on the interest that they pay on such loans but owner occupiers do not get tax relieve any more.

  3. Scott Simpson Reply

    July 5, 2015 at 12:10 pm

    Undoubtedly London and the Sout East needs more new homes, but brownfield sites could be utilised first and more incentives given by local authorities to provide affordable family housing, instead of ‘buy-to-let’ two bed apartments for investment buyers.

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