Government is bad at spending money on these

Rather one of the points of having an electoral system is that we get to throw the bastards out occasionally. If we’re not able to do that then in the most basic of definitions we’re not really in a democracy. And if even the Tories are going to do stuff like this then how much of a democracy are we? Given that it appears impossible to throw the bastards out:

Britain’s biggest developers could be told to hand over chunks of their building sites to smaller firms as part of a package of measures being considered to help solve the country’s housing crisis, The Sunday Telegraph can disclose.

A government-appointed panel is understood to have found that the construction of homes is being slowed down as a result of a high proportion of planning permissions being granted for large sites owned by single developers.

Sources said that the group, chaired by Sir Oliver Letwin, the Conservative MP, is examining ways sites could be split up to allow smaller firms to take over portions of the land on which they would build their own homes.

“Hand over?” What, they must give smaller companies some portion of the planning permission they’ve sweated blood to get through the system? OK, perhaps the intention is that they must be forced to sell some part of it. But still, this is ludicrous.

Hold my hand as we walk through the analysis that leads to idiocy like this.

Most planning permissions – most by the number of houses, the portion of the total perhaps – end up going to large builders who are dealing with large developments. Partly this is just a matter of statistics of course. But it’s also a reflection of the planning system itself. It’s vast, complicated and expensive. As with regulation of any other industry only those who can afford to hire the boxtickers get to navigate through the system. The costs of having a “department of gaining planning permission” can be spread over 5,000 houses a year rather than 3.

It’s the system itself, in its complexity, which favours the larger organisation. As, again, is true of near all such regulatory systems.

So, having outlined this problem, what is the proposed solution? That the large builders should hand some portion of their permissions to smaller ones.

Hmm. Why not actually strike at the heart of the problem? Why not make the system of gaining permissions simpler so that the inherent skew in favour of the larger companies no longer exists?

And if the Tories aren’t willing to start doing that sort of thing then what’s the damn point of them in the first place?

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  1. At first glance, this is going to add a cost to large companies doing developments. So, at the margin, some developments will become unprofitable & not get built. So less houses. Sheer bloody genius on behalf of the Tory party. Is there some sort of special stupidity qualification it’s necessary to acquire to become a politician? PPE?

  2. Of course; complicated planning permission is what limited competition to the huge firms. Having government seize land from them to solve a problem it created (and will not solve) is like Trump’s tariffs or the War On Drugs. And transferring property to entities less able to exploit it is like Zimbabwe.

  3. “And if the Tories aren’t willing to start doing that sort of thing then what’s the damn point of them in the first place?”

    there isn’t any. They’re just socialism light. I helped mine out at the last election and he and most of the councillors and activists are One Nation types. I knew my MP was, and I was hoping that the shock of Brexit might get the rest of the local party to rise up against him, that maybe they realised the country wasn’t a bunch of milquetoast surrender monkeys after all. But I realised nearly all of them were like him, and the ones that were fans of Thatcher and Hayek were far too outnumbered.

    Most of these people just want jobs. They don’t want to destroy those jobs. They come from jobs where a lot of wealth depends on the state like law and banking. Think these sorts of people want the state to allow anyone to do a conveyance or represent someone in court?

    If you want to vote for anyone, ignore party and find a bloke who is in a true free market job. The manager of a Lidl store, or a plumber or a former bookie. Someone who knows what being productive looks like.

  4. Dont be silly, Tim. If we made planning easier, less capricious and simpler, how on earth would we enforce things like: sustainable development, slow-worm surveys, bat boxes, affordable social housing surcharges and planning gain? #eyeroll