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Economics and Land Use Planning: Insights from Britain

Blog Entry No. 1

October 11, 2016

Collapse predicted if the current British land use planning system continues without radical reform:

  • “We think the evidence of the economic and welfare – even environmental – damage done by Britain’s current planning system is overwhelming, however, and that the impact will get progressively more damaging over time since supply of space is ossified but demand develops. The question is not will we reform it but when will we reform it and will that be before a catastrophic collapse?” (p. 152)
  • “Moreover, as the experience of both the post Barker reforms and the reforms of the post-2010 Coalition government have demonstrated, only radical reforms have any change of working. The problem is that any radical reforms are politically unpalatable, but no alternative strategy will work.” (p. 152)
  • “In summary, there is evidence that planning or zoning systems that restrict the supply of land or built space have significant economic costs which need to be balanced against any environmental  or social benefits. This is a problem recognized in an increasing number of countries. But the UK system is at an extreme in terms of costs it imposes. This is partly because it has been in place so long – effectively since 1947 – but also because it is particularly dirigiste [economic planning and control by the state].” (p. 122)
  • “British planning policy, analysis and implementation were, and still are, focused on physical units of housing, areas of land and densities of building. Decisions – despite the attempted reform with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) of 2012 – have taken no notice of market signals or the real drivers of demand and supply.” (p. 82)
  • “In short, understanding the impact of the highly restrictive British planning system is important in the context of UK urban policy. But the British experience also provides some idea of what the future might hold for other countries as planning systems become increasingly restrictive.” (p. 81)