Caroline Flint : Let them eat Bricks & Mortar

I guess when you’re housing minister, then every problem is solved by building more houses, but the timing of her statements in this story in the Telegraph, have got me more than a little annoyed.

Let me get this straight . .

  • Food prices are rising
  • Energy prices (used to import food from overseas) are rising dramatically
  • We all need to reduce our food miles to have any chance of reducing global warming
  • House prices have lost 12% so far and may halve within the next two years

And her solution to the shortage of affordable rural housing is to build more houses on farmland around small villages?!? Surely this will result in:

  • Less land available to grow food in the UK
  • More imported food
  • More expensive food
  • More CO2 emissions
  • A real risk that Britain will find itself unable to feed itself in a post-peak-oil world

And if that wasn’t stupid enough:

  • Even lower house prices
  • Local people buying these new houses will be in Negative Equity almost immediately
  • These houses will just end up as more “second homes” in under a decade

Within the next decade we’ll be facing real oil-supply issues that could have a critical impact on Britain’s ability to feed itself. The solution is not to have people delighted to be living in local houses, but who find themselves unable to afford food.

Now, I’m not housing minister, so maybe I’ve missed something there, but how about we look at some other solutions:

  • Removal of second homes, by tax or legislation.
  • Maybe identify the areas most at threat from local depopulation and declare them “protected areas” where housing must be inhabited for at least 50% of the time. Housing not meeting this criteria to be bought by local councils to be rented affordably to local families working in the area.

Those are just my initial (slightly grumpy) thoughts, but surely somebody out there must have more than half a brain, and be able to come up with something better than the “duh . . . let’s just build more houses” argument.

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