Monday, July 9, 2012

Enough layers of planning ensure that disaster is not left to chance

Progressives are always going on about "Smart Growth" and how uber cool it is.  OK, so how has it worked where it's been tried?  Not so great, actually:
The Economist reviews housing prices in London, one of the most expensive cities in the world, and what do you know, it finds that high housing prices are due to urban planning. “The biggest constraint on development in London is the Green Belt,” says the magazine that calls itself a newspaper. “Tt runs (with perforations) all around London, to a depth of up to 50 miles, and bans almost all building on half a million hectares of land around the city.”

Ah, but Britain has 62 million people in an area slightly smaller than the state of Oregon (94,000 vs. 98,000 square miles), so those greenbelts are needed to preserve farms, forests, and open space, right? Not really.

As a BBC writer points out, urban areas cover just 6.8 percent of the United Kingdom (10.6 percent of England, 1.3 percent of Scotland, 3.6 percent of Northern Ireland, and 4.1 percent of Wales). Moreover, much of the land inside those urban areas is open space, so less than 2.3 percent of England, and even smaller proportions of the rest of the kingdom, have been “paved over.”

If Britain had been allowed to grow unimpeded by greenbelts and planners, urban areas might have spread out to, perhaps, 15 or 20 percent of the country (more of England, less of the other countries), and probably would have included a higher percentage of green spaces within them. This hardly sounds like a disaster and is far from “paving over the nation.”


The latest mantra is that dense cities are more sustainable. Four British urban analysts reviewed this idea in no less than the Journal of the American Planning Association. “The current planning policy strategies for land use and transport have virtually no impact on the major long-term increases in resource and energy consumption,” they found. Instead of being sustainable, these policies “generally tend to increase costs and reduce economic competitiveness.” Moreover, “the potential socioeconomic consequences of less housing choice, crowding, and congestion may outweigh its very modest CO2 reduction benefits.”

As these analysts hint, people who support Britain’s land-use policies are largely unaware of (or don’t care about) the huge social impacts of their programs: inferior housing, limited social mobility, and a business-hostile environment. Meanwhile, the benefits they claim for their policies are almost purely fantasy.
I'm sure that you're shocked that Progressives' "Smart" vision amounts to nothing more than seizing a lot of money from other people to enforce their SWPL preferences, resulting in higher social inequality and increasing poverty in the working classes that cannot escape their "Smart" plans.

Smart, that.


Luton Ian said...

Back in my college days, we discovered that every time SERPLAN (South East Regional Planning board) announced plans to build on the green belt around London, a property price crash was only a few days away.

A friend who's job entails making planning applications in Britian, was showing me some:

One had around 25 conditions attached, each one required a fee of £85 to be paid for a bureaucrat to come out to ensure compliance.

Another application was approaching 20 changes requested by the council, each change they requested, netted them a £1k fee.

A different friend is a prison guard, who used to look after Albie Dryden, the man who shot a planning officer dead in front of the BBC's cameras.

Sean D Sorrentino said...

You presume that the stated reason (Let's keep Formerly Great Britain green) is the real reason.

What if the real reason is to maintain the high property prices while making lower income city dwellers as miserable as possible?

A pissed off proletariat, smarting under extremely high rents, is easy to lead around by the nose.

kx59 said...

The more people involved in planning the bigger the mess it becomes.
Design committee sets out to design an Arabian horse, by the time every participant's input is duly noted, regardless of how stupid, said horse has morphed into a Camel with air bags.

Luton Ian said...

Which member of the committee's idea were the bobbly horns on a giraffe?

kx59 said...

My guess is a cabal of twenty something liberal arts graduates concerned about the danger of pointy horns.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations you have recommended building a city that would stretch from Dover to Bristol to Manchester/Sheffield and I know you would all,be dying to live in that concrete hell hole. Planning regulations may suck badly but have you ever bothered to talk to your local town planner in the USA, they buy their cookie cutter rules from the land of wonderful ideas California. They are just as insane with as much red tape.

Ken said...

There's plenty enough of this particular brand of codswallop on this side of the pond, too. Check out the "New Urbanism" sometime. Kunstler (hawk ptooey) has been panting for years to round up everybody and herd 'em into Bauhaus cubes, disguised with a little gingerbread, and a few latte stands for ersatz* atmosphere.

When the gingerbread falls off and the latte stands are banned in the latest round of the War on Obesity(tm), the tenement blocks will still be there.

*German chosen over French (faux) deliberately, Godwin be damned.

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