Poor George Monbiot doesn't really get it, does he?


That there's something wrong with the British property and land markets is entirely true. but if we're going to complain about it it does help if we manage to identify what is actually wrong with it. Which is where George Monbiot doesn't really get it:

It’s hardly surprising, given the degree of oversight. Private Eye has produced a map of British land owned by companies registered in offshore tax havens. The holdings amount to 1.2m acres, including much of the country’s prime real estate. Among those it names as beneficiaries are a cast of Russian oligarchs, oil sheikhs, British aristocrats and newspaper proprietors. These are the people for whom government policy works – and the less regulated the system that enriches them, the happier they are.

Land has great value in Britain not because it is less regulated, little regulated nor even under-regulated. It is because it is all over-regulated. Specifically, through the planning system which creates and artificial scarcity of who may build what, where. That makes having the right chitty extremely valuable. And as such, the people who currently own both land and chitty are absolutely delighted about this system of over-regulation. While the rest of us are less so as we're forced to pay for that artificial value created by the artificial scarcity.

It has been pointed out for decades, just as one example, that the existence of green belts is simply a subsidy to those who currently own land inside one. The answer to which is, of course, deregulation of those restrictive planning laws.

Or, as we have suggested more than once around here, simple demolition of the Town and Country Planning Act 1947 and all its successors.

We do agree with Monbiot that all is not right with Britain's land. But the problem is one of over-regulation, not under-.