Housebuilding 'is oligopoly protected by backwards planning system'

A claim that housebuilding is 'a plain old oligopoly protected by a backwards planning system' features in today's media round-up.

The Times’ (subscription) economics editor, Philip Aldrick, says that the big housebuilders "are the only game in town". He writes: "Housebuilding is a plain old oligopoly protected by a backwards planning system that raises barriers to entry, and needs to be shaken up".

An article in The Financial Times (subscription) says that Sir Oliver Letwin has been accused of not going far enough in his report last week on housing build-out rates "to reform the price at which councils buy agricultural land in order to make housebuilding more affordable". The paper says that "many figures in the housing industry had expected Sir Oliver to recommend a shake-up of the 1961 Land Compensation Act — a move that could have made it much cheaper for local authorities to build homes". It adds that "Sir Oliver insisted he had tackled the issue, telling the FT his guidance to local authorities would mean councils could compulsorily purchase large plots of land at no more than 10 times its agricultural value".

The Times reports that "scientists have found that introducing wind farms can have unsettling effects on the local habitat, comparable to those that happen when you introduce big carnivores". The paper says that a study, "in Western Ghats, India, showed that by scaring away bird life, the turbines caused a ‘trophic cascade’ through the food chain that made lizards change colour. They suggested similar effects would also probably be found around British wind farms."

The BBC reports that a town mayor "has failed in his legal bid to challenge government policy on how fracking applications are handled". The broadcaster says that, in the High Court, Paul Andrews, the mayor of Malton, North Yorkshire, argued that government measures announced in May to help speed up decisions on planning proposals "fundamentally" changed guidance to local planning authorities. But Judge Justice Holgate found his judicial review bid to be "unarguable".


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