There was an interesting article in the Guardian yesterday (at http://www.theguardian.com/housing-network/2016/jun/03/london-foreign-investors-money-housing-property). The article has a missing side, but that is not in question. You see Dawn Foster is illuminating an essential side. The issue ‘housing without xenophobia‘ is well found and well-founded too, all rounded and informative. An excellent piece. My side is not of opposition, but on a part she did not pause on (which was never a requirement).
The quote “they drone about how “Britain is full”” is one you need to remember, you probably will because the average UKIP person will hammer it to an uninterested audience on a daily basis. The second quote is probably one of the most brilliant ones “Britain is not “full” and very little of the country is built upon. With an ageing demographic, we need our population to expand; and with birth rates declining, immigration will be key to propping up the economy, the NHS and the care industry“, I agree with Dawn, but in that light she does not acknowledge that London is actually ‘full’, that part is nearly a given. Nearly being the operative word as the bulk of the UK population can’t afford to live there. There are plenty of other places where people in the UK cannot live, because the prices have gone up by too much. You see, the silent part in this article is all around ‘affordable housing’.
Dawn does illustrate this in the quote “But the most pernicious and covert xenophobia in the housing debate concerns “foreign ownership”. The amount of overseas investment, particularly in the London housing market, is increasing. Empty towers owned by foreign money are also an issue, because they ramp up house prices and concentrate construction on luxury suites rather than family homes and flats for first-time buyers” and she emphasises the need for housing to be affordable. Yet, I ‘accuse’ her of remaining silent? How come?
Well, first of all, her article was not required to ponder on it, perhaps we the readers should be doing that. The UK must soon, if not as early as yesterday amend the investment rules regarding real estate and investments. You see Dawn is not the first person getting close to the issue. There was David Batty, who is not as batty as some say he is (at http://www.theguardian.com/housing-network/2016/jan/30/luxury-london-homes-86m-social-housing), where we see on January 30th of this year “A Treasury spokesman said: “This government is already taking strong action to ensure fairness in the housing market and help people on to the housing ladder. In 2014 we introduced a higher rate of stamp duty for properties over £1.5m and from April 2016 additional properties will face additional rates of stamp duty. This will enable us to double the affordable housing budget”“, which makes me wonder how far those plans are coming along. In April of this year (at http://www.theguardian.com/cities/2016/apr/20/london-housing-crisis-sub-prime-problem-super-prime), Anna Minton reminds us with “Down the road from Balfron, Peter and Alison Smithson’s Robin Hood Gardens, also internationally acclaimed, failed in its bid to gain listing, and is now one of dozens of estates, housing tens of thousands of people around London, facing imminent demolition“, we should not forget to carefully ponder the quote “While David Cameron has heavily promoted the sink estate narrative to justify “estate regeneration” – essentially a euphemism for demolition – Lord Adonis (PS not the same person Greece refers to), the former Labour minister appointed by George Osborne to chair the national infrastructure commission, is given to blunter statements, having made it clear that a central reason to knock down London’s estates is that they are sitting on “some of the most expensive land in the world”“, it is there that we see the problems and the issues for London and for the UK. The part ‘the most expensive land in the world‘ comes from a push we saw in the 80’s. I remember those times really well. Here is an actual decent quote from the Telegraph (who knew): “Mrs Thatcher and her Chancellor Geoffrey Howe confronted the recession in a very brutal way. Rather that cut taxes, they raised them, and rather than increase Government spending, they slashed it“, written by Angela Monaghan. It is not unlike the days the UK is facing right now, people have forgotten that from that era new wealth was created, in similar light, the politicians have forgotten that life in those days was at least to some extent affordable when we consider the UK rents, so there is the issue that is unspoken, we need to cap certain events, not in light of some assumptionary value of land, but to a value where we count the value on how many people are housed within that area. That is where we need to see the changes to investment taxation when it comes to real estate. So what if this balance is not a seesaw as we often approach it, what if it is more like a Balancing Bird Center of Gravity (at http://www.amazon.com/Balancing-Center-Gravity-Physics-Colors/dp/B0019LNESE)? So as the body and tail of the bird is the lucrative side of investment property as foreign investors see it, than the affordable housing part would be represented by the size of the wings. The fairness of not opposing ‘profit’ for those foreign and domestic investors, but to carry their profit they need to invest into the wings and quite a large amount too. Of course, that could mean that the wings are not in London, but that would not be the worst part would it? In the end those houses are also part of their fortune, whether it is rent to own, the foundation of those investors becoming housing corporations or even the start of a new British housing dynasty. They will grow into long term investors and growing the need the UK has for affordable housing, which is where we see the highly needed balance of profit and endurance.
That is the silent non addressed issue. That part should have been dealt with for the longest of amounts. One of the articles mentions Heygate Estate, we see the area of Walworth, Southwark, and South-London as a housing project, but what it became was even worse than a failure. The fact that it required to be demolished 40 years later, only 40 years later is the huge issue. The idea of modernisation was overshadowed by many issues, yet in this light is the clarity that the buildings failed to foster a sense of community. In my view it seems to image a prison estate. Modernisation without elegance fosters alienation plain and simple. Architect Tim Tinker stated: “farrago of half-truths and lies put together by people who should have known better” (at http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-london-23371735), yet who are those people? You see, when you place people in such a massive proximity, you negate the need for what I regard to be ‘spacious privacy‘. You might not comprehend this, or at least some of you will not, but when you are in an office, try to relate to people working in cubicles, those people tend to be different. Isolation in a work environment creates a different form of segregation. There is actually a decent blog article on the matter (at https://www.tradegecko.com/blog/open-office-beneficial-detrimental), I think that there is another layer at work. The writer states this on the open Facebook/Google culture “They are popular and effective no doubt, but only work because their office layouts align with their company culture and caters to diverse staff needs“, here I do not completely agree. Yes, he is stating a correct fact, but an incomplete one. You see, in an open environment we do not only work our way, work in open space and in cohesion, it works because these people work with the need to consider the work of others. That is where these housing projects are an issue. As there is a lack of community, consideration takes a downturn for the worse more and more. Yes, it can breed inconsideration, crime and anti-social behaviour, but is that actually happening or is that only happening in the mind of the other person, the fear of hardship due to isolation? Only the people who lived there would be able to tell for certain.
It is a mere question and the question matters because that is a psychological event that has been known LONG BEFORE that housing project became to be. I personally believe that if the project was more spacious, with a small Tesco mall in the middle with a lower population on such an area, I reckon (an assumption on my side) that a critical population point was surpassed here. I do not have the skills or the math to help you in that regard, it is only speculation from my side. However, to see housing to be demolished after merely 40 years shows a larger problem, problems with planning, with execution and perhaps even with the quality. Whatever it is, this needs to be done better and it needs to be done soon and adjusting foreign investments is the only clear way to do this (so far four administrations have been a failure in this). The issue as I see it is that Margaret Thatcher was the last one truly working on affordable housing. Some state that this started to happen in 1997, whilst there is enough evidence that the flat line was as early as 1991, making the starting point of this issue whilst the power was in the hands of Sir John Major, the fact that this continued during what we now laughingly refer to as New Labour. Even as we accept that a lot was done under the Thatcher government, we have to raise the issue that several of them after 40 years are now changing hands and getting pushed into other projects, making the costs 40 years ago high and might be regarded as a bad investment. This is here we are now, the need for affordable housing and no solution in sight, especially when the government is well over a trillion short. Foreign investors could be the solution, but it will require a different kind of investor. Now, we will hear on how those investors will consider it bad investment and walk away, because plenty of them are all about short term gains. I am stating that we do not deny them the gains, we just want them to be longer term, especially with the massive tax breaks they enjoy. They can feel free to move to the US and invest there, but when that 18 trillion debt collection falters their investments could collapse or be held against much higher tariffs making the United Kingdom the best option for a safe investment, even if it is not short term. And if they back off there will be other new millionaires jumping at the chance of a long term gain with a long term balance of value and increased exposure as welcomed new wealth.
The BBC is showing us the reality of the mess that affordable housing has given its tenants: “An entire community has been forcibly displaced for the sake of mere land value speculation“, which is the failing of three governments and a really inadequate planning department, not to mention that in all this the House of Lords equally failed its citizens by not adjusting the balance against such greed driven motives. In addition, after a long term of playing Ping Pong with the Hose of Commons, we see that projects are set to readjusting, which would make sense, but the fact that the tenants are ‘forcibly displaced for the sake of mere land value‘, whilst the tenants are partially the reason for the increase in value gives weight that these tenants should not have been allowed to be displaced, but should have been awarded an exchange to a similar sized apartment at no extra cost. The value was in part due to their tenancy. From my point of view both the House of Commons and the House of Lords failed these tenants, which makes us wonder: who gives a flying fig when greed comes to town?
There is in part the silence too, but that will be an article for another day.
The UK is currently in a place that whether Brexit happens or they are faced with Bremain, local issues will not be resolved until certain measures are taken to keep the people safe, not just from investors, but from local folly and rezoning needs at a price that might not be worth the effort, not in the long run.