Wemmick was the humble clerk in Great Expectations who desired to turn his humble Elephant and Castle home into a fortress, complete with drawbridge, with the Dickensian version of a Gatling Gun on the buttresses to ward off boarders. Today he’d be permanently in the Planner’s Office, lodging yet another objection to his neighbour’s building plans.
From the pages of the Guardian – where else? – over the last 21 days, the earnest champions of the poor and dispossessed have lodged the following objections to solving any of the nation’s housing problems. Henceforth known as ‘you can’t go up, you can’t go down, and you can’t go sideways’ – and ‘definitely nowhere where I can see it’.
Let’s take ‘you can’t go up’ first. Ken Livingstone, darling of the left, first suggested building more high rise apartment blocks in London. Forget the howls of protest concerning asylum seekers ‘forced from their communities’ by the housing benefit cap. Attempts by developers to build affordable housing in high rise blocks now become ‘an invitation to tax evaders to park their cash in the UK”. Beautiful hypocrisy from a newspaper kept afloat by a tax evading Cayman Isles trust, but we shall let that pass.
On December 2nd, Livingstone stood accused of ‘dinning in private’ with developers (not out in the street where we could see him – whoa!) and agreeing that ‘they should be allowed to build as big as they wanted, as long as he could take a tithe of the proceeds to spend on such things as affordable housing’. Generating money for affordable housing is no consolation when the view of the ‘gothic spires of the Houses of Parliament’, seen from your post prandial wander beside the Serpentine, is ruined by the sight of affordable housing soaring into the skies in the Elephant and Castle. It may be eco-friendly, it may help to finance housing for the homeless, it may even be sustainable – but if it ruins your view from the Serpentine, it’s a no-no. Even the Shard came in for criticism, on the grounds of ‘ruining the view of St Paul’s from Hampstead Heath’…..a view of St Paul’s being uppermost in Leftie eyes when out dogging on Hampstead Heath…
Perhaps you can go down? Kensington is the ‘most densely populated borough in the country, with no room to build outwards, and no permission to build upwards – so the only way is down’. Kensington is one of the councils accused of running a ‘Kosovo style social cleansing policy’ when it announced that it could find no more room for more homes and was considering housing benefit claimants in Derby. Surely the Guardianistas would be pleased that a way to create more housing in the borough had been thought of? Nope, back on November 9th, they were fighting off that suggestion.
There are no planning laws which cover what goes on below ground, and architects had realised that instead of their clients decimating housing stock by buying up the house next door to create more space, they could dig down, incidentally shoring up old housing stock which had been built with flimsy foundations.
Over the past four years, this local authority alone has granted planning applications for more than 800 basement extensions, refused 90, and has a further 20 outstanding.
The Guardianistas are still unhappy – it seems that ‘vast swathes of impermeable concrete beneath the surface can prevent rainwater soaking away and increase the risk of flash flooding’. Quite apart from all the work going on making the pleasant Borough of Kensington ’seem like a war zone’.
How about side ways then? Not in Kensington – there isn’t a sideways…but out of London, out of the brownfield sites?
Just in case you had thought of that, here comes Andrew Motion yesterday; emoting ”somewhere between horror and enormous anger” that Nick Boles might be about to build in the countryside and spoil his view in his attempts to house all those people that the Guardianistas insisted were necessary to take Britain forward into the brave new world of multi-culturalism.
The government concedes that the UK is in the grip of a housing crisis with the number of households expected to expand at the rate of 230,000 a year, creating a demand for housing that the current stock cannot fulfil.
Has anybody got any sensible suggestions as to where the extra 230,000 homes a year could be built, now essential since feminism has decimated marriage thus creating the need for twice as many houses, and invited half the poverty stricken world to come and live with us, that won’t upset the very people who brought about this situation?