Memorandum by Ringwood Town Council (AH
1. Ringwood is a small market town on the
Hampshire/Dorset border between two major sub regional conurbations
linked by the A31(T) and is therefore a location with excellent
transport connections. House prices are very high due to demand
for such a strategic location. However, land identified for housebuilding
is modest and not scheduled for release before 2011.
Demand is being met in a piecemeal and inadequate
manner by small scale infill development. There are no brown field
sites for housing and one site, an ex foundry with extensive contaminated
land designated for employment use despite the poor surrounding
traffic network. It would make a far more sensible mixed use development
as it is within walking distance of the town centre.
The town can only expand modestly in two areas
due to it being framed on three sides by the Avon and associated
SSSI, extensive flooded gravel pits to the north and by the NF
National Park on the east. Yet these two areas are identified
as part of the Green Belt despite the Inspector who reported on
the New Forest National Park saying that they were of no landscape
value and of minimal agricultural value and used mainly for grazing
to ensure grant payments.
2. HOUSE PRICES
UK housing land supply has been disconnected
from market pricing since 1947.
Planning goals control supply and
are not aligned with growth in demand.
The lag in the planning system results
in missed economic opportunities.
Ringwood is an example of conservation
thinking that has restricted growth in a mixed economy market
town with excellent transport links.
3. THE PLANNING
Linear planned/predicted increases
vs exponential growth demandinflates equilibrium price.
Current situation impacted by globalisation
and technological changefuture will be "faster"
Historic tax distortion of market
led to secondary use as investment vehicledifficult to
Tight land supply led to regional
"bubble economy" in SEin areas where agricultural
land is falling out of use.
Leads to high land price and (paradoxically)
poor building quality (reduced risk to capital).
Central response has been to attempt
to mandate very high-density housingbut people want "an
Englishman's castle"dignified high-density housing
is costly (eg Bath terraces). However, high densities preclude
ability to change/alter housing easily to life style changes.
Consider: more flexible land use
modelspossibly variable use zones with local competence
Low volume/high price market led
to historic high transaction costs, long transaction times.
Leads to depressed labour mobilitycan
be seen in our "dormitory town".
Consider: reform of housing buy/sell
system to lower transaction costs.
4. Tackling the regional disparities in
supply and demand
Do not attempt to tackle using "social
Use price mechanismhelping
in pursuit of regional strategic goals, without micro-managing
Historical lack of flexibility has
hindered adaptation to changing needs and ability to pay
Currently, the Government is championing the
concept of choice in Health, Education and local community involvement,
yet it seems remarkably reluctant to give us choice on a fundamental
of a good lifea home and the second single largest expense
in most people's lives (after pension provision).