Did a seminar yesterday in the LSE geography department’s London series. My talk was a modification of what I did in Berlin (below) and it seemed to generate quite a good discussion – not least because Ian Gordon, Duncan Bowie and Paul Cheshire were active. The slide show here for those who want to see it – edwardslselondon09 and you can find it on the lse London site, apparently.
My presentation was not good enough. in particular it somehow lost its edge in the transition from global level to the London material. Ian pointed out that the initial attention to crisis did not follow through in an analysis of what the crisis is in the specific case of London. (He’s very charming and firm.) So I have more to do on that. There was some interesting exchange with Paul Cheshire about what to do on the land/housing/planning front. He said dealing with the green belt was just a one-off and that a major long-run change was required in the planning system to liberalise land supply, including changing the incentives on local authorities so that they get financial benefit from saying yes… I replied (i) it’s not the planning system which is a problem but rather the policies pursued using the system. (I should have said that contryside protection was a class project but failed to do so.) (ii) an unplanned ‘release’ of land would be very bad news in all sorts of ways and that we would need to plan to get the configurations right in relation to transport, jobs, etc; (iii) socialised land supply was essential (iv) incentives to LPAs hardly likely to work very well because of the tiny proportion of LA revenue raised locally in the UK. (I should have said that planning decisions should remain political, not incentivised financial…; and think of southern Spain. But I didn’t.)
On the question of land development trusts etc, I argued for a wide diversity of experiments on forms, and Duncan Bowie (otherwise very supportive) was critical on the grounds that land ownership should be securely within the LA to support optimal use / avoid self-interested behaviour.