Planning and living costs

Interesting piece in about Britain's antiquated planning policies. Public opinion on them seems to be changing, driven largely by rising price houses. People figure that maybe it's time to build more houses. That was, of course, the conclusion reached by Kate Barker's study on housing a decade or more ago.

And planning restrictions impose other costs too. Not just our homes but our shops and other facilities become more squashed and crowded, and food and other essentials become more expensive – planning rules mean they have to be transported long distances, and planning delays put up suppliers' costs.

And yet, says the American author, England and Wales are less crowded than Ohio, with its rolling hills and famland. Only 9.6% of England and Wales is urban, compared to 10.8% of Ohio.

An average house in the UK cost about three times the median income in the 1990s. In the London green belt it is now seven times that. Our houses are now 30% smaller than they were in the 1920s, before the planning laws; with the obvious exception of Hong Kong, our new homes are some of the smallest in the world - 'rabbit hutch homes' as Communities Secretary Eric Pickles described them. It is indeed time to have this debate.