Housing and planning expert Duncan Bowie has produced a blueprint for Labour Party housing policy in a new publication that argues for an integrated approach on land, taxation, planning and public investment to provide radical solutions to the growing crisis.
Bowie, a senior lecturer in spatial planning and housing at the University of Westminster, has worked in senior positions for the Mayor of London, the Housing Corporation, the Association of London Government, the London Docklands Development Corporation and the London Boroughs of Newham and Lambeth.
In this new book he provides a critical review of housing policy under successive UK governments. From Tony Blair’s New Labour and David Cameron’s Coalition government to the 2016 Housing and Planning Act, Bowie demonstrates how recent governments have failed to provide adequate, affordable housing, leading to a chronic lack of provision.
He explores the inter-relationship between housing, planning and land policies, and puts forward a reform programme based on an alternative set of policy priorities and delivery mechanisms.
“It is time to throw off long held ideological assumptions as to ideal forms of tenure and the relationship of state to market,” writes Bowie in an author’s blog. “There is a systemic problem which cannot be corrected by short term measures and more radical solutions are necessary if the housing market is to be stabilised and the delivery of new homes increased.
“We need to recognise that if we are to tackle inequity in wealth and opportunities, we need to tackle inequity in housing which is now the central component in inequity between households, both within and between geographical areas. It is also central to the growth in inter-generational inequality.”
As a priority, writes Bowie, a member of Chartist magazine’s editorial board, any incoming government should:
- repeal the 2016 Housing and Planning Act, with the exception of the rogue landlord clauses
- redirect government housing investment from owner occupied and corporate properties to social rented provision, and increase the overall level
- systematically reform policy on planning and land, and draw up a national spatial plan to identify locations for residential and employment growth
- reform land and property tax so it supports housing policy objectives rather than obstructs them.
“The core components of reform to the housing market and housing supply are land, ownership, money and power,” he writes. “These are fundamental issues, and any proposition, whether from government, political parties, academics or practitioners, which fails to operate within these parameters will be inadequate.
“We must return to a housing policy based on effective use of residential accommodation rather than a policy based on individual asset appreciation.”
Bowie will be giving a lecture based on his new book at the University of Westminster in London on Monday 16 January.
Radical Solutions to the Housing Supply Crisis is published by Policy Press and will be launched at the same venue on Monday 23 January at 6pm.