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Election Day: Take housing out of politics, agent pleads

The chief executive of Andrews estate agency chain says housing policy should be decided not directly by politicians but by an independent body, much as monetary policy is managed independently by the Bank of England.

Michael Robson says a debate hosted by Andrews and addressed by several leading figures in the residential industry made it clear that while they welcomed the attention given to housing during the election there was a need for “longer term housing visions and policies to be made that could extend for ten or 15 years, not simply the five year duration of our parliamentary system.”

The debate included Robson, Stephen Smith of the Legal & General Network mortgage lender, Tom Lacey of chartered tax advisers Moore Blatch, Andy Tilsley - a regional sales manager at Nationwide - and Mike Day, director of development and home wwnership at Knightstone. 

“Housing and property issues have been more prominent in this election campaign than ever before and so we decided to hold the debate in order to examine what impact the various parties might have on the market. We didn’t set out to draw conclusions, simply provide views and food for thought” says Robson. 

The panel of experts also debated which, if any, of the parties vying for power might have the best solution for providing more affordable housing; the effect that five year fixed term parliaments have on the housing market; and whether the private rental sector should be subject to more control..

The full debate can be viewed here:

  • David Winsper

    Perhaps the root of any solution to stabilising the Built Asset market lies in the origins of Land, in that the solution has been ever present in law and The Law of Property Act 1925 and its link to The Crown and true ownership. Whilst in no way advocating a socialist state, this definition of Land does give weight in law to it being under the ownership of an ‘A Political’ organisation which if borne has the potential to stabilise the complete sector, pulling various vignettes together.

    Any proposed organisation solely responsible for Land must have complete autonomy and thus be independent from government, politics and industry bodies, but must be influential enough, through a holistic ability, to lead and join this fragmented industry into one sanguine direction.

    It must mute these constant Short Cycles (4-5 Years), Long Cycles (9-10 Years), Long Swings (20 Years) and Long Waves (50 Years) and prevent the ‘Hockey Stick’ Patterns, identified by Knoll et al, which plague true and stable growth.

    The BoE is perhaps best suited and positioned for this roll, given its mantra that of;

    “Promoting the good of the people of the United Kingdom by maintaining monetary and financial stability”

    And in that it is remote from the government of the day, including its politics and yet has the Data Set and Tool Set to expediently intervene in the Land sector, which invariably encompasses construction.

    Legislation for this sector, such as The Housing Act 1988 etc, is so fragmented that a new Act is required, to supersede all others, akin to the Equality Act 2010 usurping and codifying its numerous previous Acts and Regulations, but most importantly to simplify and facilitate procedure in a proactive fashion.

    Thus, when the weight and emphasis is passed to Local Authorities, there is parity across the UK and procedurally limited bureaucracy, for the Land Developers, irrespective of size, to thrive.

    A bi-product / Secondary function of this proposed autonomous organisation, once established, will be to merge all the threads of Infra’, Sustainability, Build Quality etc, so future towns and villages are not achieved piecemeal, but have a common thread and theme running through, for time immemorial.

    At the Macro level of course it will be self-propagating, releasing space to the Land market and trading space, for the Built Asset – Commercial, Residential, Retail etc ensuring its own targets are met and the ever elusive, but agreed figure of 250,000 Units pa.

    Whilst analyzing these vignettes, unduly influencing Land in terms of asset value, asset availability, asset definition etc, it is of note that individual changes whilst small in effect and gains, in combination, through a proposed holistic approach could benefit and stabilize the Land and thus the property sphere greatly, akin to Sir D Brailsfords theory and application of ‘Marginal Gains’. The concept of ‘Marginal Gains’ is not new, the approach is used in many sports and is now filtering through to business. An in depth analysis of this can be found in ‘Marginal gains: Olympic lessons in high performance for organisations’, Hall et al 2012

    My Thoughts - http://www.tenanttown.com/imagesdw/TheWinsperGroup_HolisticApproachToProperty_AuthorDWinsper.pdf

  • Fake Agent

    Eh? A holistic approach to property? I've heard it all now.

  • Jon  Tarrey

    @David Winsper - did you swallow a thesaurus or a hefty academic text or something?

    Blimey, call me stupid, but most of what you wrote went way over my head. And a holistic approach to property? I've heard some out-there things in my time, but that takes the biscuit.

  • Algarve  Investor

    @David Winsper - all very articulate, but I don't think you've really tackled the question at the heart of the article.

    Certainly, housing should never be used as a political football - and there is an argument that both the NHS and housing would benefit from being taken out of politics and run by an independent regulatory body. The problem being, people have very different ideas on housing and what should be done to sort the current supply crisis we have, so we'd have to rely on mature, collaborative, even handed politicians to make this a reality. Like houses, these would appear to be in short supply.

    We need sensible discussions on housing. But more than anything - and I'll keep banging on about it - is we need more houses. We've failed to build enough for decades. We built more in the 70s with a smaller population to cater for.

    Housebuilding has slowed drastically under the Coalition, whoever gets into power will need to make reversing this one of their first key jobs.

  • Richard White

    It's hard to see how property can be kept out of politics when there is such a disparity between the haves and have-nots. Dangerous leftist meddling with the mechanisms of the market will naturally end in tears; because it always does. So, the only way to deal with it is by increasing the supply of stock or reducing the demand for that stock. A 4 year old can understand the principle. However, there is no political will to address the latter and the former is, for very obvious reasons, an impossibility. The upshot? Property Politics is here to stay.

  • David Winsper

    A Holistic / Collaborative approach to the industry has legs, as it is akin to the transformation / overhaul of the Construction Sector in 1994 & 1998, falling from Government implementation of the Latham & Egan Reports, which while beneficial to Construction and thus Property Development failed to identify that the 'Asset' is not the final output, but merely supplies the Property to the start line of the Land sector.

    If the Property / Land Sector doesn't establish a collaborative approach to these issues, through an ‘A Political’ Organisation, not bent by Politics, then it is in danger of being driven by the jingoistic party politics, not of the masses, but by pressure / support groups on the fringes, thus promoting minority property policies.

    My Thoughts - http://www.tenanttown.com/imagesdw/TheWinsperGroup_HolisticApproachToProperty_AuthorDWinsper.pdf

  • Simon Shinerock

    David, an interesting point of view, I tried looking at your tenanttown link but tenanttown is under construction and your link address is incomplete, I can recommend bitly for short links should you need them. As to the content of your post, you are suggesting the BOE is best placed to play a central and pivotal role in land and building policy because of their moral and social ethos. I disagree the Bank of England dies not have the expertise or experience to fulfil such a role and I don't think they would accept it as part of their remit. I also disagree with your premis that past cycles can help us much in the planning process moving forward. Things are moving much faster than in the past, we are experiencing vast paradigm shifts in many different aspects of society at an exponentially increasing pace. I have a much more simple and effective solution to our housing shortage, build more property! I dont think we need to change the bureaucracy to do this, we merely have to develop the appetite to do it, this appetite is growing anyway and will no doubt be one insatiable once people are forced to live in tents on common land!


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