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Report: Better planning and housing would see households £10k a year better off

Words: Laura Edgar
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The UK could boost its GDP per capita by 30 per cent if enough homes were built in the right places – and households would be £10,000 a year better off if planning were better, a report has claimed.

Yes in My Back Yard: How to End the Housing Crisis, Boost the Economy and Win More Votes suggests three ways to alleviate the housing crisis, boost living standards and disposable income, and “revitalise” the economy.

The report has been put together by John Myers of London YIMBY (Yes in my back yard) and released in conjunction with the Adam Smith Institute think tank.

Myers maintains that GDP per capita would be 30 per cent higher in just 15 years if planning was 'better' and enough homes were built in the right places, which equates, the report suggests, to households being an average of £10,000 a year better off. Shortages of housing near job opportunities lead to high rents and prices, says Myers, preventing young people and those from deprived communities from moving to areas that have good jobs.

The report puts forward three proposals in an aim to win the support of existing homeowners for development:

  • Individual streets should be allowed to give themselves permitted development rights, so they can build upwards to a maximum of six storeys. They should be able to choose a design code, with these two measures potentially able to allow up to five million new homes to be built over a generation in London alone.
  • Local parishes should have the power to improve their green belt by swapping out land considered “ugly” or “dead”, or is intensive farmland, for development, and to add protection to areas of outstanding beauty.
  • Devolving some planning laws to city-region mayors so they can choose different regimes for themselves, whether to expand and permit extra housing or maintain their current size.

“UK GDP per head would probably be 25-30 per cent higher with better laws on land use” – report

Yes in My Back Yard suggests that the reforms would benefit the nation’s exchequer, not just through property taxation but also as people moved closer to better jobs and earned more.

John Myers, co-founder of London YIMBY, said: “A new generation of young people is demanding change to avoid being worse off than their parents. There are vote-winning ways to make decent homes truly affordable with the support of existing homeowners, if only we seize them.”

Ben Southwood, head of research at the Adam Smith Institute, said: “The planning system is a mess. We all know we need more homes and infrastructure in the places people actually want them – but it isn’t delivering.”

He said locals could not be blamed for blocking development that “blights their views with ugly designs” and detracts from their living standards.

“So we are proposing a raft of measures that may bring homeowners around the country on side. If new housing benefits people already living there, then we may finally be able to build enough to stop rents taking half of people’s pay packets.”

Yes in My Back Yard can be found on the Adam Smith Institute website (pdf).

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