At the closing ceremony of the Olympics, Brian May displayed a picture of a badger on his coat in protest at the government’s plan to kill thousands of the animals in an attempt to end bovine TB. He didn’t have a picture of a local government officer on his coat - although they too are under attack.
Planners are to be culled because they are holding back a house building boom. A veranda-free-for-all and affordable house building ban will remove the dead hand of planners resulting in households and major developers spending all their hoarded cash employing building workers and stimulating the economy.
The planning changes will boost investment, but by how much? Doubling the size of the veranda that can be built will not make much difference - there is no huge suppressed demand for them.
Removing the requirement to include affordable housing in developments will change the arithmetic of schemes, and some of them will be built. But they still have to sell them and that depends on the state of the housing market - which is not healthy.
Affordable housing is more needed than ever, but developers make more money from market housing. But we can achieve both. The Housing and Communities Authority used to have cash to ‘gap fund’ to give the developer an incentive to include affordable housing in mixed developments, hitting two targets at once - stimulating building and increasing the supply of affordable housing.
Meanwhile, bovine TB harms cows and farmers’ livelihoods. But all the science shows that if you kill 70% of badgers in an area for 10 years, it reduces bTB by only 16%. Badgers also move into other areas, increasing bTB there by 25%.
Why is the government attacking badgers and planners when the evidence suggests they are bit players? Bovine TB and economic recovery are complex problems that need a consistent, sound approach over a long period. All this will achieve is thousands of dead badgers, ugly extensions, and lost opportunities for affordable homes.
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The one thing he won’t comment on is his identity…