Saturday, 9 November 2013

Elderly to blame for housing crisis...?

From the Telegraph recently:

Elderly to blame for housing crisis, indicates minister

Old people and immigrants are forcing the Government to relax planning rules and allow more houses to be built on the greenbelt, Nick Boles has said.
Ministers are attempting to pressure councils into building more homes on countryside land, campaigners yesterday warned, as Nick Boles attacked people opposing developments on green fields.
The Government has torn up thousands of pages of planning rules in a bid to add “much needed simplicity and clarity” to the system Photo: ALAMY

The planning minister singled out the rise of four-generation families for an “intense” housing crisis, saying a rapidly-ageing population was putting greater pressure on the housing market than mass immigration.
Mr Boles, speaking at a Westminster Hall debate in Parliament, faced a major backlash from Tory MPs who warned the party was haemorrhaging votes after creating “planning anarchy” that would “destroy our open countryside”. But Mr Boles said the new targets for land supply for housing imposed on councils are too low, and said there are no longer enough brownfield sites to meet demand.
Southern England and some northern towns face an intense “housing crisis” that has left children in overcrowded homes and two-thirds of first time buyers relying on help from wealthy parents, Mr Boles said.
“Our population has grown and we have not built enough houses to keep pace with it. One source absolutely, that is contentious in this House and elsewhere, has been immigration, which was uncontrolled for a very long period of time,” Mr Boles said. “But it’s important to remember the majority of that population growth, has not been as a result of immigration. The majority of that growth, about two thirds, has been as a result of ageing.
“How many people now are part of families in which four generations are alive? Quite a lot of people. It used to be very rare that there was a great grandparent or a great-grandchild in family. It is now very common because people are living longer and they don’t all want to live in the same house.”
Mr Boles said he would “love” to avoid building on open countryside, but one in three developments must now take place on greenbelt land because many brownfield sites are in areas where people do not want to live.
Mr Boles faced a succession of furious Conservative backbenchers, who said the government was imposing too high housing targets on local authorities, forcing them to designate greenbelt land for housing. “Our policies on housing are losing us many votes in rural areas,” said Laurence Robertson, MP, who said “arbitrary” targets had been set in an attempt to “engineer a recovery”.
Nick Herbert, the former policing minister, said the reforms were “developer-led” and "effectively allow for a free-for-all on our countryside". They risked undermining ministers’ promises to grant more power to communities under the localism agenda, he added.
Stewart Andrew, Conservative MP for Pudsey, Horsforth & Aireborough, said the greenbelt in his constituency risked being “ravaged” by overly high housing targets that demanded 74,000 new homes. Eighty per cent will have to go on green fields. “The precious places that are the lungs within our communities, the natural barriers between our towns and villages and the green borders between the cities of Leeds and Bradford will all be gone,” he said.
Sir Tony Baldry, MP for Banbury, said a development had been allowed on greenbelt land in his constituency after Mr Boles approved an appeal by developers, against the wishes of the local council. “What the Secretary of State has allowed is a first-come, first served policy, with planning permission given to whichever developers happen to get their applications in first. This is planning anarchy,” he said.
Martin Horwood, the Liberal Democrat MP for Cheltenham, said his town had been hit by unfairly high housing targets because of “insatiable” demand from housebuyers who want to send their children to good local schools.
But Mr Boles insisted his housing targets are too low for Britain’s growing population, and councils must be forced by Whitehall to prepare for newcomers. “It is not that there are hugely inflated demand figures being put into local plans, adding up to something way ahead of what we need.” He added: “We don’t say to the NHS provide as many GPs as you can afford right now. We say to the NHS, work out how many GPs are needed. The same is true of housing sites.”

Elderly to blame for housing crisis, indicates minister - Telegraph

East Devon has one of the highest elderly populations in the country.
Planning Minister says “elderly are to blame for housing crisis” | Sidmouth Independent News
Futures Forum: Population and migration: care for the elderly
Futures Forum: East Devon's population

It is the suggestion embedded in such headlines as
Elderly More To Blame For Housing Crisis Than Immigrants, Planning Minister Nick Boles Says
which has prompted a housing consultant writing for Inside Housing magazine to write to the Press Complaints Commission:

Blaming the elderly

From: Inside out

For the past two years The Daily Telegraph has been running a spurious‘Hands off our land’ campaign aimed at developers and government ministers and egged on by the Banana wing of the countryside lobby. This started with the national planning policy framework and has continued intermittently. One of their main targets has been Nick Boles MP, a goodplanning minister who understands the nature and scale of the housing crisis and knows that we need to build many more homes if we are to become a modern, decent society. He also knows that our future housing needs cannot be met solely from brownfield land and that we will need to build many homes on greenfield land.
This has enraged some Conservative MPs who called for a backbench planning debate at Westminster Hall last week. You can read the transcripthere and the Inside Housing story here. Some of these MPs even deny that there is a housing crisis, which does make you wonder.
The Telegraph used the following headline for its report on the debate: ‘Elderly to blame for housing crisis, indicates minister.’ I felt this was inaccurate and misleading. I tweeted to this effect and after an exchange with the Telegraph’s reporter he told me, ‘I just write down what is said in debates in Westminster’.
However, I don’t believe the Telegraph did just ‘write down what was said’.
Here’s the evidence. Mr Boles starts his speech by saying: ‘I need not start by underlining the scale of the housing crisis faced by this country, the extent of the need for housing or the grief and hardship that the crisis is visiting on millions of our fellow citizens.’
He goes on: ‘Our population has grown and we have not built enough houses to keep pace with it.
‘That growth in population has had two main sources. One, which is contentious in the house and elsewhere, is immigration, which was uncontrolled for a long time. We as a party rightly criticised that, and are now doing something to control it. However, it is important to remember that the majority – about two thirds – of the growth in population and in the number of households in the country has resulted not from immigration but from ageing.’
I don’t believe any reasonable person would conclude that Mr Boles had ‘blamed’ the elderly for the housing crisis. He makes it very clear that the ‘blame’ rests with our inability to build enough homes. The fact that the Telegraph chooses to use the flaky words ‘indicates minister’ in its headline rather than ‘says minister’ gives the game away, in my view. I felt this was a violation of the commission’s code, in particular article 1 (1), which you can read here.
However, headlines have consequences. If you have time to read some of the comments below this article you will see, as of today, almost a thousand postings from Telegraph readers, many of them making personal and offensive comments against Mr Boles or against immigrants. This is what we are up against, colleagues. But in my view many of these readers have been misled by the headline to the story.
Because of this, I decided to make a formal complaint to the Press Complaints Commission. It is unlikely to have any effect, but if it helps to tone down some of the intemperate language used by the Telegraph and its use of provocative and misleading headlines in the future all well and good.

Blaming the elderly | Blog

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