Pay UK national debt with a planning permission tax | Brussels Blog

Pay UK national debt with a planning permission tax

posted by on 19th Apr 2011
The UK can be a desirable place to live.

The UK is a country that, for many, is a pleasant and safe place in which to live and, in urban areas in particular, offers interest and excitement. These benefits are reflected in the demand for property.

Towns and cities that are attractive have experienced the highest rates of increase in property values. This is not simply a tautological and self-evident truth. The factors that contribute to “attractiveness” can be estimated independently from the value that they add to property stock. In addition, it is likely that impending environmental change will leave this country with a relatively benign climate.

UK property values

The UK can still have high property values. One Hyde Park flat is sold for £136m the Guardian has reported.

The London Olympics have £1.8 billion in their budget from buying land, acquiring planning permission, developing property then selling it. The £1.8 billion is effectively the value of the planning permission.

The flat mentioned in the Guardian report seems to have been sold for £50k per square metre. The whole block fetched for £20k per square metre. For developments to achieve this sort of value an excellent location with planning permission is necessary. Planning permission is the key.

The national debt is £900 billion.

Quite near these flats there is lots of open space under public (or crown) ownership. Let us suppose the nation sold off some nearby land with planning permission and could collect the value of the planning permission as with the London Olympics. Think of flats in blocks as twice high and twice as wide as Centre Point. That is 100K square metres each. The planning permission value would be well over £10K per square meter. That is £1 billion per block of flats leaving a healthy profit for the developers.

I would put three or four of them on Hyde Park Corner and six more in the corner of Hyde Park near Marble Arch. I would further look for more places on the edge of our parks close to the noise, danger and fumes of London’s traffic. Some expenditure on external works could actually shield the parks from the traffic. Ten blocks shouldn’t depress the market too much.

I think this shows that a small dose of planning permission can easily cut £10 billion from our national debt and if the scheme is rolled out nationally the national debt can be wiped out.

Perhaps public land is the easy option. The state owns it and can give itself planning permission and develop. For privately owned land the situation is more complicated but it must be remembered that it is planning permission that releases the value. The Government is trialing mechanisms to capture this value, such as the Community Infrastructure Levy.

Why not call it a Planning Permission Tax?

Geoff Beacon


“I am a (structural) engineer, specialising in
foundations. There is a problem with building
the tall buildings you describe on Hyde Park
Corner. The foundations would conflict with the
many tube lines that go underneath.”

“Why not put them on the west side of Park Lane
along the eastern edge of the Park?”

A structural engineer ( May 27, 2011 at 1:45 pm )

Commenting on my own post. Sad?

I have spoken to a few politicians since floating this idea:

John Denham MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills
Andrew Stunell MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary for DCLG
Rosie Winterton MP, Chief Whip, Labour Party.

None of them supported the idea.

I also wrote to Bob Neil MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at DCLG, after chasing him out of a meeting. Nice bloke Bob.

The reply I got from some official (Bob might have signed it… I’ll check), ignored the suggestion.

Everybody else I’ve asked supports it. I don’t think the politicians know what a fix we’re in. They all seem to believe if we give everyone degrees we’ll innovate and be successful and get everyone jobs.

Geoff Beacon ( May 27, 2011 at 1:59 pm )

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