Fez's Daily Debate: Are green belts still a good idea?

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Saracen's Fez
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I'm going to try and start something new (as much as I can remember to do it): a new topic to discuss every day, trying to avoid as much as possible directly mentioning coronavirus.

So today's question to debate is:

Are green belts still a good idea?

I think most people would agree that the housing market, for both buying and renting, is broken for many young people. Rents in desirable cities to work in (particularly London) are very expensive, and the age at which people are likely to be able to buy their own home is getting ever older. As more people want to move to cities, should the solution be more housing on the green belt, or do we need to constrain the size of cities to avoid sprawl? If it's not desirable to make our cities physically bigger, how do we make sure people want to work where the homes are?
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04MR17
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I really worry that removing greenbelts will expand our cities at an unhealthy rate. I would maybe see it justified in certain parts of the country where there are clear house price issues and the city itself feels cramped. But I think a blanket national policy (be it greenbelt or not greenbelt) isn't a perfect solution, so perhaps we need to think about how we might be able to vary things nationally.
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DiddyDec
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Yes, the only land that is truly finite in this country is agricultural land. In a time when we are pulling away from globalised markets we must become more self sustainable and with that comes the need for food.

There are swathes of brownfield sites being land banked by developers which is not being developed as it would devalue to properties they are currently building or on the market due to the increased supply in housing. This is done for one simple reason, greed.

On top of this over the coming years I expect the commercial property market to significantly struggle as the recent pandemic has proved to many that physical offices are not required to run a functioning business. Much of the work can be undertaken from home, so why bother with the unnecessary overheads of rent, rates and bills when the vast majority of your workforce can be sat at home doing the exact same work?
This will undoubtedly free up offices all over the country which can most likely be knocked down for residential property as it is often more expensive to convert offices to residential than demolition and rebuild.
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Saracen's Fez
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(Original post by DiddyDec)
Yes, the only land that is truly finite in this country is agricultural land. In a time when we are pulling away from globalised markets we must become more self sustainable and with that comes the need for food.

There are swathes of brownfield sites being land banked by developers which is not being developed as it would devalue to properties they are currently building or on the market due to the increased supply in housing. This is done for one simple reason, greed.

On top of this over the coming years I expect the commercial property market to significantly struggle as the recent pandemic has proved to many that physical offices are not required to run a functioning business. Much of the work can be undertaken from home, so why bother with the unnecessary overheads of rent, rates and bills when the vast majority of your workforce can be sat at home doing the exact same work?
This will undoubtedly free up offices all over the country which can most likely be knocked down for residential property as it is often more expensive to convert offices to residential than demolition and rebuild.
I agree with most of this, if brownfield land turns out to be sufficient. I guess another aspect of the pandemic is that it's likely to mean more people working remotely, which doesn't require them to live in or near a big city (mainly London). As one of the big issues isn't so much a lack of homes as that they're in the wrong places, with plenty of cheap housing in places with fewer good / well-paid jobs. Hopefully these areas can become more desirable as people realise they're just as good for remote working as anywhere else.
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DiddyDec
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(Original post by Saracen's Fez)
I agree with most of this, if brownfield land turns out to be sufficient. I guess another aspect of the pandemic is that it's likely to mean more people working remotely, which doesn't require them to live in or near a big city (mainly London). As one of the big issues isn't so much a lack of homes as that they're in the wrong places, with plenty of cheap housing in places with fewer good / well-paid jobs. Hopefully these areas can become more desirable as people realise they're just as good for remote working as anywhere else.
There is one caveat to this however, the internet infrastructure is not good enough in many places to allow efficient home working practices. I am fortunate to have a fibre connection but many a colleagues have struggled on their older copper lines as there is a greater demand around the country on these services. Many will use virtual machine connections such as Citrix or connecting to work servers to access files that require a constant connection.

If working from home is going to be our future then we must upgrade the infrastructure to support this new way of working.
Last edited by DiddyDec; 1 month ago
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the bear
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once they are gone they are gone. we would be left with a dismal urban sprawl from The Lizard to John O'Groats.
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Napp
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To be honest i'd be more in favour of knocking down sub par housing in the cities and replacing it with high rise than squashing what little nice scenery Britain has left beneath the boot of affordable housing.
After all, it boils down to whats more important; protecting an already questionable view in the city or turning various sections of, relatively, unspoiled land in the city into odious urban sprawl?
Lack of housing is indeed a problem but to be honest i'm doubtful that simply pushing the issue onto those in the country is a good idea as opposed to fundamentally reforming the planning regulations in the cities as a starting point.
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DiddyDec
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(Original post by Napp)
To be honest i'd be more in favour of knocking down sub par housing in the cities and replacing it with high rise than squashing what little nice scenery Britain has left beneath the boot of affordable housing.
After all, it boils down to whats more important; protecting an already questionable view in the city or turning various sections of, relatively, unspoiled land in the city into odious urban sprawl?
Lack of housing is indeed a problem but to be honest i'm doubtful that simply pushing the issue onto those in the country is a good idea as opposed to fundamentally reforming the planning regulations in the cities as a starting point.
There is a point that I feel needs adding to this. Leaseholder rights need to be strengthened in order to have a sustainable high rise market. As it stands I as a former residential block manager would never but a flat since you have very few rights to dispute service charge or ground rent with the landlord nor can you elect a property manager of your choice to manage the estate without significant difficulty.

Service charge is a particularly appalling state of affairs that can leave you with exorbitant costs upon the property you "own" through no fault of your own. Until there is reform to give leaseholders an actual say in the matter of the property's maintenance I could never recommend entering this market.
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barnetlad
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Yes I support their retention. There is plenty of brownfield land available. Also one of the legacies of the pandemic may be a lower need for office space, much of which could be converted into housing, as has happened in New Barnet not too far from me.
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