Wednesday, 17 January 2007

Is the answer to the House price boom to Build on Green Belt?

The Government commissioned a report recently to look into the boom in house prices. As the economy becomes more fragile with debt at record level, the increasing value of our homes has become critical to the economy. Kate Barker produced her report in 2004, saying that as houses in the South East were in limited supply and demand was growing; lets build lots more houses. Now the decision has been taken to lower the planning regulations so that lots of houses can be built on Green Belt land.

Perhaps Barker and her mentors Brown and Prescott have been looking at this the wrong way. What if we change our current system which where we are not using our land efficiently. There are empty homes in the north, and great demand in the south. There are also empty houses all over the south, bye-to-let is growing and some people own second homes. The wealthy are buying holiday homes in attractive holiday areas like Cornwall and in Europe so local people can’t afford to live there. As the homes aren’t occupied all year the small shops that served the community are being closed, a cruel cycle increasing the break up of rural life. The current system of taxation encourages inefficient use of land; second homes and empty homes are taxed less than family homes

There are some things that can be done to change this, change the community charge to discourage empty houses and send civil servants from London and the South East to the rainy north, save some money also. The other radical idea is to look at land value taxation as a better way of distributing land.

Land Value Taxation is a method of raising public revenue by means of an annual tax on the rental value of land. The necessity to pay the tax obliges landowners to develop vacant and under-used land properly or to make way for others who will. The value of every parcel of land in Britain would be assessed regularly and the land value tax levied as a percentage of those assessed values. See for more information.


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