Sunday, 4 September 2011

Greenfield building

Let's be clear that the UK doesn't have a housing shortage, London and the South East has a housing shortage. And this means we're not talking generally about building on greenfield sites, as attractive as this is to developers, but specifically on greenbelt sites. I'm sure that local housing pressures elsewhere in the UK can be met by the reuse of brownfield sites without despoiling the Chilterns, the Malverns, the New Forest, the Somerset levels or my own Brecklands. 

John Redwood had half the solution when he asked why we were using premium rail routes into the centre of London for heavy steel-wheeled rolling stock; wouldn't it make more sense, he asked, to move the heavy rail termini to the outskirts and use these valuable inner corridors for rapid, rubber-wheeled, high capacity, computer queued light transit stock that could move millions of commuters about effectively and overcome overcrowding of both heavy rail routes and carriages?

The other half of the solution should be this; draw a 40 minute travel-time (by light mass transit) radius around London. Within this area, existing main line rail routes will pass through the greenbelt; between Gatwick and Victoria, Chelmsford and Liverpool Street and so on. A development corridor or ribbon two miles wide centred on the mainline, equipped with new stations and stops, through the existing greenbelt, will allow as much new housebuilding as anyone will ever need, with no additional pressures on the road system. 

Too simple? Probably. 


Anonymous said...

Brilliant idea, it will never see the light of day though.

Greg Tingey said...

Much too simple, because, in this case. Redwood is completely fucking Upney ( 1 stop beyond Barking ) mad ......

Remember, train stations/termini accommodate suburbanm inter-urban, cross-country, long-distance and high-speed trains.

And you want to make everyone TRANSHIP at the M25/A406 ???
You What?

Gallovidian said...

How about moving a few million people to the airports and hence back to their own lands?

FrankS said...

People will want to live in London in the south east until it becomes an uninhabitable concrete hell with unbreathable air, constant water shortage and gridlocked roads.
Why not make other regions more attractive?

outsider said...

If your plan would "allow as much new housebuilding as anyone will ever need, with no additional pressures on the road system" then it might be worth turning millions more City kids like me into .. well, you get the point. But it will not.
Two million more homes, say, would not be enough for long and I do not think you can assume that all the inhabitants will just commute to Central London every day. They will want to go to all sorts of different places by road too.
It would be great to plan a less London-centric country but it won't happen so best to rely on the equivalent of the law of congestion: all (predictable) congestion is optimal. Otherwise, people would just choose a different route/mode of transport. Likewise, housing shortage in the South East will increase until it is not economic to create new jobs in London. Then they will go somewhere else.
Mind you, colleagues of mine commuted from Kettering, Winchester, Brighton and Cambridge, mostly to enjoy cheaper housing. I recall one barrister who exploited short court hours to commute from Wickham Market. So it could take a while to reach saturation.