Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Tory metropolitan elite to concrete over greenbelt

Not content with tearing the Conservative Party asunder and dividing the whole nation over same-sex marriage, it appears that the Tory metropolitan elite are intent on establishing the poverty of their cultural hinterland by concreting over England's green and pleasant land. And once it's gone, it's gone forever - as the party used to intone in the days when it used to care.

Care, that is, about what matters to its members - those who are generally disposed to conserving all that is good in the Constitution and all that is valuable in society: its institutions, traditions and mores, for the continuity and stability of the nation.

According to Planning Minister Nick Boles, "The sum of human happiness that is created by the houses that are being built is vastly greater than the economic, social and environmental value of a field that was growing wheat or rape."

It is not known how the Minister has quantified this happiness, or by what coherent and logical methodology he deduced this conclusion (if, indeed, deduction it be), but once again we see the Tory metropolitan elite riding roughshod over the primary concerns of true conservatives (small 'c' - nothing to do with party members, though millions of them used to be in days gone by).

But 'metropolitan' is merely of the metropolis, and 'elite' is simply a group set apart by some quality, qualification or virtue. His Grace has nothing at all against cities, and he would exhort everyone to rise above mediocrity and aspire to be better - in character, education and virtue. But when the modernising metropolitan elite of the body politic seems infected with money, property and industry to the detriment of community, culture and conversation, it is not unreasonable to find disparagement in both terms.

For this is not an elite which inspires to wholesome jealousy, or raises the oppressed or lifts the downtrodden out of empathy or compassion, but one which induces bitterness in its contempt for the ordinary and everyday concerns of us all. What do they think local Conservative associations have been doing for the past century if not defending the rural way of life? What do they think Conservative councillors have been doing the length and breadth of the country if not guarding the greenbelt from Labour's aggressive urbanisation of cow land and woodland?  

We know that those who now lead us once sat on the same Oxford committees, were members of the same clubs, played tennis together and shared flats in Notting Hill. They were privileged from birth, and now they seem to hold us in contempt, lampooning us as 'dinosaurs', 'backwoodsmen', 'Turnip Taliban' and 'swivel-eyed loons'.

There is nothing unreasonable, mad or backward about preferring fields of bluebells and hawthorn hedges to bricks, glass, steel and concrete. Our happiness is calibrated on a different scale to that preferred by the elite: ours is English and imperial - consonant with culture and harmonised with nature. Theirs is modern and metric - alien, harsh and extrinsic.

Conservatives naturally seek to conserve, and that includes the whole of creation. We might look to the Psalmist for our founding charter: 'The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for He founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters' (Ps 24:1f). Belief in God is not a prerequisite for being conservative, but neither does conservatism repudiate such belief. Creation is good not only because God says so, but because it is. Certainly, we may debate the extent and manner of that goodness, and disagree on how best to maintain it. And we may meditate or ponder whether or not the life of man is worth more than that of a sparrow, or whether a brick dwelling brings us more happiness than a field of wheat. But this does not negate the natural Conservative instinct to conserve. And if the Conservative Party no longer conserves, it has lost its raison d'être.


Blogger The PrangWizard of England said...

Boles is clearly launching an attack on England and Englishness. He does not understand the people of England at all.

I wonder who will be the first person to throw the first brick through the first window. It seems that were arriving at the point where this is our only option. They just will not take us seriously.

28 May 2013 at 08:29  
Blogger Roy said...

Could the government's plans to reduce protection of the green belt be a tacit admission that they do not really expect a significant decline in immigration over the long term?

28 May 2013 at 08:33  
Blogger Tony B said...

Is this rural idyll available to anyone but rich Tories these days? Or would it be a good thing for villages if some of those less fortunate were able to return to them, not easy since all the council houses went.

28 May 2013 at 09:19  
Blogger bob said...

People living in green belt, by protecting it, massively inflate the value of homes, and doubly so their own.

I don't want to live in a shitty flat, that is costing me 2x the price of my parents house (and that's adjusting for inflation), I don't want to be paying nearly 100% of my wage into rent.

You want the green belt, fine, then pay compensation for the costs you incur to others, then you can have as much greenbelt as you want.

28 May 2013 at 09:36  
Blogger jonty said...

Not sure why anyone is surprised at this. The Tories have always worshiped profit and no doubt a small number of people will be enriching themselves as the green belt disappears.

28 May 2013 at 09:38  
Blogger Albert said...

One of the reasons that there are so few houses is because people are living alone in greater numbers. So, as usual, part of the solution one would have thought would have been to reward marriage - instead of penalising the married and undermining it.

28 May 2013 at 09:43  
Blogger Tony B said...

How exactly are the married penalised, Albert? I can't say I've noticed it.

28 May 2013 at 09:48  
Blogger RetiredPaul said...

What happens when the land is full of houses, but there is nowhere to grow food? They naturally assume that Tesco and Sainsburys (or more probably Waitrose and Aldi)has got the problem cracked. But we cannot rely forever on other countries being willing to share their food with us.

Even the metropolitan elite will then begin to wonder at their own set of priorities.

28 May 2013 at 09:58  
Blogger Flossie said...

Albert is spot-on. Many of the houses where I live were built to accommodate many more people than those who presently inhabit. Families used to stay together, sometimes several generations. That has all changed thanks to easy divorce, fewer children, the culture of shoving granny into a home etc.

(Not in the immigrant community, though. One house near me even had bunk beds in the kitchen!)

28 May 2013 at 10:03  
Blogger Gerv said...

"What happens when the land is full of houses, but there is nowhere to grow food?"

The proportion of the UK's landscape which is built on is 2.7%:

So we are rather a long way from that.

Three questions:

a) Where does the cultural mandate, to "fill the earth and subdue it", fit into our reasoning about whether and how to build more dwellings?

b) What makes us think that now, in 2013, we have got the balance of urban to rural exactly right for the population we have? What about in 10 or 20 years time, when the population has grown by another million or three?

c) Why is it that people think it's a given that "when it's gone, it's gone forever"? Historically speaking, that's just not true. There are areas which were built on (or used as rubbish dumps!) and which now are green fields, parks or forests.


28 May 2013 at 10:04  
Blogger Nick said...

I would argue we no longer have party politics, just a collective elected autocracy, with nothing but contempt for voters, who are seen as nothing but a meal-ticket to MPs, who once in power, completely disregard the wishes of the people who put them there.

The sad thing is that the gullible electorate go on voting for them in vane hope they will make their lives better

Cameron is not just a marriage-wrecker, he is a nation-wrecker, a posh "Chav" if you like, who sticks two fingers up to the people he is supposed to be leading

rant over, back to work

28 May 2013 at 10:19  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is the inevitable consequence of recent rapid population growth and influx of newcomers that we will shortly welcome with open arms and pockets.
The EU will ensure that there is no reduction in net immigration. But let us not be uncharitable, the anticipated Romanian and Bulgarian arrivals have got to live somewhere. Providing shelter for our fellow Europeans is a far better alternative to abandoning them to enrich the environment with caravans in laybys and horses munching the verges. Besides, such unbridled activity would take a large bite out of the Tory rural vote.

28 May 2013 at 10:30  
Blogger The Explorer said...

Peter D/DanJ0

I'm not contributing to this this thread; but if either of you is interested, I've added comments on the 'Hate Clerics' and 'Pickles' threads.


28 May 2013 at 10:34  
Blogger Berserker said...

RetiredPaul posts:
What happens when the land is full of houses, but there is nowhere to grow food?

THose houses have gardens. An average garden can sustain enough produce from May to December and City Centre mini allotments are the growing thing.

Let us only eat seasonal food and the money saved on imports could go on vastly increasing the number of allotments.

28 May 2013 at 10:39  
Blogger David Hussell said...

Excellent post Your Grace. It so happens that I spent my career as a Chartered Town Planner, working very hard to challenge unnecessary construction, steering justified construction towards sites that would be the least harmful to town and country, and always striving to lead the team to achieve high quality, community focussed new developments, in Suitable places, with church and school at the heart of those communities.
At the start of my carer, 4 decades ago, each house was occupied by 4 persons but it has fallen steadily downwards. Living longer and divorce plays its part in this process of needing more houses for the same population. Immigration on a vast scale has also been a major factor. Part of my life long belief that we should not be increasing the population is that it is now, and has been for some time, almost impossible to find sites to build on that do NOT harm those things that are important, like good productive farmland, wildlife sites, fine views and yes , the Green Belt, which is meant to combat urban sprawl and prevent coalescence of towns with surrounding villages, which would create conurbations. We are, and have been for a long time, full up, especially in the over crowded south of England and Wales.

28 May 2013 at 10:43  
Blogger Tony B said...

Flossing, I would have thought the culture of shoving Granny into a home tended to free up a house?

28 May 2013 at 10:46  
Blogger Tony B said...

Nick, I think you're right except you appear not to have noticed that the gullible public largely aren't bothering to vote.

28 May 2013 at 10:48  
Blogger G. Tingey said...

Might disagree with the wroding in places, butotherwise.
You are perfectly correct.
Trouble is, would any OTHER party do any better, really?

28 May 2013 at 10:58  
Blogger Nick said...

I don't think it is inconceivable to have a political party / government which didn't legislate against just about every law of nature and common sense. I would hesitate to endorse any political party, but i believe we can and should expect better government than we are getting now

28 May 2013 at 11:02  
Blogger Mr Integrity said...

Your Grace,
The issue is as always, is it expedient? Politicians will do anything if it is expedient. Having had planning issues recently and seen the varying treatment individuals receive at the hands on amateur politicians playing planning experts, I have no confidence that that there will be no backroom deals when it comes to Green Belt development. It is unbelievable the influence that one councillor can have when they want to interfere for expedience and their popularity sake.
I have to say how good the Private eye was this week. Cameron speech bubble says "I just can't work with these conservatives any more".
Too true.

28 May 2013 at 11:20  
Blogger Albert said...

Tony B,

How exactly are the married penalised, Albert? I can't say I've noticed it.

See here:


Now that was in 2010. Dave has been too busy making gay 'marriage' to have time to make good the promises his party made before the election to properly married couples. He has however, found time to burden traditional families further.




It turns out that it is often better for a couple to live apart than together. Cheaper for them of course, not for society or their children - but that kind of harm can't be measured in financial terms.

The family is under attack. Personally, I think it is more because Dave doesn't know what he's doing and doesn't realise that many of those around him actually hate the family because it is a rival to the state.

It is surely impossible for any Christian to support this party (unless their candidate is opposed to what Dave is doing, of course).

28 May 2013 at 11:25  
Blogger bluedog said...

Albert @ 11.25, doesn't 50% of the parliamentary Conservative Party oppose Dave on just about every one of his initiatives? Having lost the vote of half his own party he now depends completely on the LibDims and Labour to enact his business. In effect, the Coalition has become a Government of National Unity. The Conservative Party is probably an historic irrelevance in Dave's eyes. It seems fairly certain that the erasure of the Green Belt would have been cleared in advance with Dave's coalition partners.

28 May 2013 at 11:38  
Blogger Tony B said...

Thanks Albert. I think what we see here is that the privileged Old Etonian class currently running this country simply having no connection with or understanding of the lives of ordinary folk. And can they really think working couples on £150,000 each need government handouts??

28 May 2013 at 11:41  
Blogger Tony B said...

And Albert, I think perhaps it's impossible for a Christian, or anyone else, to vote for any party at all.

28 May 2013 at 11:43  
Blogger Roy said...

Our policies are being made by people who like living in big cities such as London but are careful to live in places like Notting Hill, not Tower Hamlets. Some of those who do live in rural areas have large estates, not small cottages. They don't mind the rest of us being overcrowded.

One of the things I like about places like North America and Australia is the sense of space. I don't want to be a factory-farmed human in a concrete jungle. If our politicians think ordinary people should put up with that, why don't they go and live in tower blocks in city centres?

28 May 2013 at 11:50  
Blogger Albert said...


Yes, the Conservative Party looks irrelevant to Dave - just as he has made it irrelevant to the country. Post Dave, it's going to be very hard to rebuild the party.

I particularly enjoyed the spectacle of Dave having to rely on Labour to oppose an amendment from his own backbenchers on straight Civil Partnerships. Dave, an unelected PM, has to rely on opposition votes to get through a Bill for which he had no electoral mandate and which was contrary to his stated position the day before the election because the Bill, though framed in terms of equality creates glaring inequalities - inequalities which Labour actually wanted to oppose, and which, the Tory MPs who tabled the amendment were probably opposed to anyway.

Total shower!

28 May 2013 at 12:00  
Blogger Albert said...

Tony B,

They're calling it a "chumocracy" now, I see. I don't object to there being Etonians advising Dave. But the sheer number of them and the very different upbringing they have had from the rest of us, surely prevents them from really advising for the country, and reflects poorly on Dave's judgement.

Certainly, the traditional main parties seem to be off-limits for Christians. This will doubtless hurt the Conservatives most - have they ever had such poor leadership?!

28 May 2013 at 12:03  
Blogger Nick said...

They'll soon be calling it a "bumocracy". Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "bottom up demand"

28 May 2013 at 12:14  
Blogger Tony B said...

Albert, yes I've nothing against Etonians per se, but there does need to be a balance. A cabinet full of Rees-Moggs would surely be a disaster, although he seems a nice enough chap.

28 May 2013 at 12:37  
Blogger Curmudgeon said...

"Theirs is modern and metric - alien, harsh and extrinsic." - very well put.

28 May 2013 at 12:50  
Blogger Albert said...

Actually, Tony B Rees-Mogg seems a rather splendid chap. Apparently, when asked about gay 'marriage' he said

I’m a Roman Catholic and have made it clear to my constituents that in this sort of matter I take my whip from the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church rather than the Whip’s Office.

I rather suspect the Tories would be more electable if they all took that line!

28 May 2013 at 12:54  
Blogger David Hussell said...

Whilst I very much appreciate the idea building up in response to this fine article, that Christians should disengage with politics, this is, in my opinion, a dangerous one to follow.. As Christians we should welcome the opportunity that a democracy offers to be able to engage with the governance and law making process, not do a Pontius Pilate and wash our hands of it all, tempting and understandable as it is given the way they behave in Westminster and Brussels. Many fine committed Christians have done an excellent job for the public, reflecting their Christian derived values. Obvious examples are Wilberforce, Thatcher and even , in a much smaller way, and more recently, I would say that Gummer was the best Secretary of State for the Environment that we have ever had, as he alone really understood the purpose and methods of Town and Country Planning, which few politicians, from left or right grasp, due to its complexity and inter-relatedness. Retreat from the public square, looking down long moralistic noses, is not the answer. We need to be engaged in practical ways with the running of this country, which is ours as well as the non-Christians, , without sacrificing our Christian beliefs. The same could be said for the composition of the media. Squeezing out the Christians from the public square and the political process represents the secularists dream. A new, young generation of Christians need to be encouraged to get involved in politics, at leadership levels, if we are to stand any chance of turning the tide. How else could it be done? A revival , yes, but as well, not instead of, public involvement, I believe. Think about it. Where is the Gospel of Hope if it is hidden away, sheltering in underused churches?

28 May 2013 at 13:36  
Blogger bwims said...

Nick Boles - yet another reason incarnate to VOTE UKIP

The entry for this piece of slime in Wikipedia tells you all you need to know.

I bet his dad (Head of the National Trust from 1975-1983) is EVER so proud!

28 May 2013 at 14:34  
Blogger David Hussell said...

Before I disappear, there is an excellent article on Conservative Home, by Martin Parson, who has written a book on: "Why Liberalism cannot defeat Islamism". It is a very concise, readable and well thought out article. The Camerons are given zero support as it points back to true, Burkean conservatism, which is now only found in a fraction of the Parliamentary Party but almost all of Ukip.

28 May 2013 at 14:37  
Blogger Albert said...


I'm not advocating disengagement in politics. I am advocating a rather more careful decision on voting than the previously tribal approach in which people uncritically supported a party for life. That model, particularly from a Conservative point of view, has been trashed by Dave who really does seem to hate his own party.

Gummer you mention, is a disappointment. As a convert to Catholicism he is personally opposed to gay 'marriage' but in a Kennedyesque move actually supports it. He wouldn't want to impose his views on others, apparently. But that just means that he understands neither the nature of marriage nor the Church's opposition to it.

28 May 2013 at 14:45  
Blogger Albert said...


Thank you for drawing our attention to the Parsons article. He's spot on I think in seeing that it is liberalism that is enabling the rise of Islamism and that the solution to the problem is conservativism.

Dave I assume just thinks the solution is more state control.

28 May 2013 at 14:54  
Blogger IanCad said...

Nothing wrong with a bit of elitism but Cameron and his cronies seem astonishingly out of touch.

They know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

We live on a delightful island. Highly populated yet still retaining an amazingly varied beauty.

Let's keep it that way.

Some solution to the housing shortage could be met in our backyards. Make it easier to build annexes for Granny or the teenagers. Raise the Building Control threshold from 30 sq.m. to, say, 50.
Perhaps if more property owners were aware of the flexibility of the Caravan Act some pressure on the housing stock could be relieved.

There are better options than chipping away at the greenbelt.

28 May 2013 at 15:32  
Blogger William said...

David Hussel

Thanks for sharing the Parson's article showing the incapacity of liberalism to deal with islamism.

Particlarly salient was the point that while liberalism has been beckoning the islamists to come in, the islamists have been recruiting on the grounds that liberalism is corrupt. A nice double effect going on there.

28 May 2013 at 16:57  
Blogger Nick said...

I think the question for us is not whether but how Christians engage politics. For years the main parties had Christians amongst their ranks. They had to put up with policies that wre against their faith but were willing to compromise provided those policies were not odious

Things have changed. Christians are finding themselves faced with either accepting policies diametrically opposed to their faith or opting out completely

We have yet to find a new party that can channel those beliefs into reasonable action. Any party that can offer this stands to fain a lot of ready-made support

28 May 2013 at 17:28  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

According to Planning Minister Nick Boles, "The sum of human happiness that is created by the houses that are being built is vastly greater than the economic, social and environmental value of a field that was growing wheat or rape”.

That's rubbish, when there is a wheat shortage they won't be so happy then. There are enough brownfield sites needing development rather than encroach on the lungs of the country.

Someone needs to concrete over all these daft metrosexual elite.

Happiness is running free through the bluebell fields breathing in the scent of summer blooms and fresh air. If you concrete over much of the land it reduces air quality and increases respiratory illnesses.

28 May 2013 at 17:47  
Blogger David Hussell said...

Uncle Albert,
I can understand your position on so called Gay Marriage, as I'm with you on that. Since I retired, from both Local Government and then, later, my own consultancy, I have not been aware of Mr Gummer's activities, but you as a Catholic are more up to date on that than I am.
Agreed. At one time the Labour Party contained many non-Conformist Christians, hence Callaghan (spelling?) saying of his party, "more Methodist than Marxist", and the Conservative Party contained a broad range of Anglicans from the High Church types, through to those like my grandparents, Low Church Anglicans, as I remain. I believe that there were many committed Catholics in the Labour Party as well. But now that wholesome position is no more. Christians have a hard time of it in these parties I believe. So what to join? At one time I was in, albeit briefly, The Christian Party, led by Alan Craig for a long while, but I soon left as I could not accept their, pro-european stance, europe being the source of many of the anti-Christian laws that we endure. And ever the pragmatist, perhaps shamefully, I could see that the party was unlikely to grow. So then , thanks to Mr Cameron, with his europe and gay marriage stances being the final straws, I joined Ukip, which is, to quote Farage: " happy to be the flag bearer for the Judaeo-Christian heritage", which is far from perfect but it will do, not being a perfectionist, as it is the best of a now largely secular bunch. I became an activist and recently a candidate. It is our best shot I am convinced. The other former, "main" parties are anti-Christian, do not value the armed services but just use them, as well as being pro-europe and supportive of multiculturalism, not British values.

28 May 2013 at 18:14  
Blogger John Wrake said...

It is not elitism which lies at the heart of the rotten government under which we continue to suffer. it is a mixture of active treason which seeks the destruction of Britain and every nation state, and the ignorance of the many, both leaders and led, who know little or nothing of Christian Britain and the faith on which Britain has been built.

As David Hussell writes, both Labour and Conservative Parties grew strong on the work of committed Christians.
Now, that commitment is missing and is being replaced by the Humanist view that mankind does not need God, controls its own destiny and makes its own rules.
The illustration which springs to mind is of a herd of pigs at a place called Gadara.

John Wrake

28 May 2013 at 19:03  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Some years ago, a plan was announced to build on a beautiful piece of land between Cheltenham and Gloucester - Boddington. There was an uproar. The gang involved unravelled, and was found, according to what this man heard while enjoying a pint at his then alma mater, to be an unholy alliance of builders, solicitors and estate agents, and of course, a few poor put upon struggling farmers. The latter of course would all have been turned into overnight millionaires. All Torys to a man.

28 May 2013 at 19:07  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

His Grace. But this does not negate the natural Conservative instinct to conserve. And if the Conservative Party no longer conserves, it has lost its raison d'être.

Having lost this man along the way with SSM, and plenty of others on this site too, instead of attempting a fatuous wooing back, the bastards are even throwing the office glass ashtray at us as we leave !

Damned remarkable. The Conservatives are bloody well finished. That’s what happens when you move the party spirit from the countryside into city winebars. UKIP take note - don’t you do as your big sister done, as the song goes…

And this kind of priority shifting has happened before. It happened to the Labour party in the mid 1970s. University educated armchair socialists replaced the old Trade Union types, and became greatly concerned with flooding the country with sub continent and West Indian immigrants. Unfortunately, while they were allocating the housing stock to them, they came up against working class resentment, as their children were rather hoping to utilize these assets. Finding that they were unable to satisfy both demands, they jettisoned the working class who were becoming rather an embarrassment to the socialist dreamers.

So there you have it, the beleaguered working class have had no one to look after their interests for 40 years. Ironically, the socialists’ generous benefits system that caused an explosion in single parent families has further eroded the working class. It is becoming somewhat rare these days, replaced by a benefit sucking and dependant morally empty underclass. The socialists’ greatest legacy to our great country – several million lame ducks !

28 May 2013 at 19:07  
Blogger David Hussell said...

Oh , and I agree wholeheartedly with whoever said that the basic problem here is that Dave and colleagues simply do not understand the first thing about what makes the English heart beat, let alone the conservative English heart. Their values have nothing in common with those of the Tory heartlands. I am no expert but for centuries we have been essentially "rural" in our outlook, even those who have lived in the towns. Generalising now, but whereas the european middle class are happy to live in city apartments , many of the English middle and upper class aspire to life in the countryside and , failing that, houses with generous gardens on the outskirts. Governments, especially Conservative ones, attack the countryside and the green belt, at their political peril, I would say. The middle classes will rebel, big time!

28 May 2013 at 19:09  
Blogger Albert said...


A thought provoking post. I think that each of the three traditional parties has a venerable Christian tradition behind them. In many ways therefore, one might suspect that they were aiming at similar things, even though, their methods and more immediate goals were different. Perhaps they complimented each other and balanced each other's excesses. Now however, whether knowingly or not (I still think Dave really doesn't know what is going on) they seem bent on destroying what Churchill called "Christian civilisation."

The present situation is rather interesting. Does UKIP have what it takes to upset that strange coalition? I certainly hope so.

28 May 2013 at 19:24  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

There must be one Conservative MP out there who is on the verge of joining UKIP. Just one is all that’s needed to shake the Con/Lib Dem/Labour coalition....

28 May 2013 at 19:31  
Blogger Turnbull2000 said...

This blog post (and many of the comments) is largely scaremongering fuelled my selfishness. The archaic greentbelt is vast, and developing just a fraction of it would go a long way to alleviating our devastating housing shortage. There's no suggestion in any of the proposal of 'concreting' of our country. That's just bollocks from the anti-housing brigade.

And secondly, brownfield land will only provide supply for a few years at most, and at prohibitive cost and in areas people often don't want to live.

Many of those on here pushing for high rises on brownfield are no doubt sitting happy with a puny mortgage on a semi and pretty garden. Itself almost certainly built on greenfield ironically enough. But f*ck the needs of everyone else eh?

28 May 2013 at 19:38  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Come on Turnbull2000, and your vested interest is ?

28 May 2013 at 19:40  
Blogger David Hussell said...

I don't know how you define "vast" green belts. This is England , not the US or Australia. Indeed nothing here is vast, not even our biggest planning designations, our excellent National Parks, are not vast. In fact around cities like York and Cambridge the belts are very narrow and fragile, as I demonstrated successfully when acting as "expert witness", many times at lengthy public inquiries, some lasting literally months, and under relentless cross examination from some of the most highly paid Barristers, usually Silks, in the land. The green belts not only prevent cities expanding remorselessly outwards, absorbing their nearby hinterland villages, which can thus remain as separate entities, but also by checking the size of cities, they retain their essential, individual character and charm, so Cambridge remains a Cambridge and York, well York stays as York, and not the "anywheresville" that presumably you favour. Also City residents need recreational space which is a key function of GBs. For cities size matters, it feeds into their unique character, and for the rural villages, separation counts, keeping them distinctive and as rural as possible.
Then there are the practical considerations. Have you not noticed that with the world's population soaring upwards, food security is vital. In parts of Africa that I visited recently, including Ethiopia, it was clear that the big population nations, China especially, is buying up good farmland as fast as money allows. We need to eat as well. It doesn't just come from Sainsburys and Tesco. Learn the lesson of WW2 when we came near to starvation. If a big volcano kicks off air freighting in food will shut down. The green belts are there for a purpose and should be protected. the fact is that England and Wales, are in the south, already overpopulated.

28 May 2013 at 21:02  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Bravo David Hussell. A definitive answer. One suspects that Turnbull is a young fellow. Interested in lining his pockets at whatever the cost. One of Maggie’s children maybe...

28 May 2013 at 21:27  
Blogger Nick said...


"the anti-housing brigade" - is that kind of home-ophobia?

Never heard of anyone opposed to the concept of homes before

28 May 2013 at 21:28  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

By the way fellows, did you note Turnbull's Freudian slip - “fuelled my selfishness”

pip pip, you fraud !

28 May 2013 at 21:31  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

One wonders whether this housing ‘initiative’ is down to the Con/Lib Dem/Labour alliance realising that London is well full up with black and brown immigrants who know they will never have to work again, and there is bugger all left to accommodate the continuing flow...

28 May 2013 at 21:42  
Blogger Turnbull2000 said...

Relative to existing developments and the land requirements as outlined to build enough houses to alleviate our housing crisis, the greenbelt is indeed vast. We're talking about around 1.5% of the greenbelt being used, large swathes of which are needlessly protected and are anything but pretty meadows or even farmland.

And do you honestly believe developing such a small fraction of the greenbelt equates to "remorseless" growth? Cut out the scaremongering b*llocks eh.

28 May 2013 at 21:50  
Blogger Turnbull2000 said...

"There is no shortage of sound economic research on how to address the supply-side constraints, and there is no shortage of developable land either. Even in south east England, 85 per cent of the land is undeveloped, so all we need to do is tap into this vast reserve, and convert the environmentally least attractive bits into residential land. The challenge is not an economic one, but a political one. But in order to achieve this, we must stop letting Nimby interest groups like the Campaign to Protect Rural England and the National Trust define the planning debate. We must expose their drawbridge mentality for what it is, rather than allow them to hide behind their rhetoric of “protecting the countryside”."


28 May 2013 at 21:55  
Blogger bluedog said...

An excellent post, David Hussell @ 21.02.

In 1900 just 14% of humanity lived in urban areas, but today the figure is over 50%. For the first time in recorded history the majority of the human race lives in a town. Consequently, this urban mass is becoming increasingly detatched from nature and the cycle of life and death that drives rural life. Politically this has implications because a growing demographic is utterly ignorant of farming practice on a first hand basis and therefore vulnerable to misinformed views.

You have earlier said 'I am no expert ( I disagree!) but for centuries we have been essentially "rural" in our outlook, even those who have lived in the towns.' Sadly this accummulated folk wisdom is rapidly dissipating. It is possible that as the human race expands to an estimated 9 billion souls by 2050, we are already seeing a fatal weakness emerge as the knowledge base of our species erodes and is replaced with a virtual experience in a built environment.

28 May 2013 at 22:06  
Blogger David Hussell said...

I recognize no logic in your argument, if that is what it is, more a "we must do this" rant, I would say. The CPRE and the NT do excellent jobs, the best of British, each in their own way, it's just that you don't like them because they are good at what they do, namely protecting our countryside and heritage. And as for your "relative to existing developments " gobbledegook, well, statistically that is a very clever little game, as it would, with expanding urban areas, perpetuate expansion and the devouring of our precious farmland and beautiful rural views, ever more, ever more. Your "85% is undeveloped" shows how weak your understanding is of what makes our country a green and pleasant place. Where do you suggest that we should draw the line? Build on "just" 20%, and then 25% and then 30% , until , woops , there is nothing much worth keeping left, ah well concrete over the lot shall we? And anyway it's not just about the built "footprint" but the space needed to travel between settlements of all sizes, and space for recreation, sport and just well, being what being English is supposed to be about, appreciating our beautiful God given land.
The public will not put up with this, especially the middle class of southern England. Their rejection of this crass idea will be vigorous, as the naive people around the Cameroons are about to find out.
Off for a final read now, on combating existentialism, so I bid you, Good Night.

28 May 2013 at 22:21  
Blogger bluedog said...

Mr Turnbull @ 21.55, you perfectly illustrate the point about urban ignorance made in my post @ 22.06.

Your simplistic assertion that 85% of southern England is undeveloped ignores the nature of the land-form. That 85% includes flood plains and water meadows, windswept downlands with thin topsoils over chalk, and sandy heathlands with acidic soils that nobody wants to try and garden. So much of the development of southern England since WW2 has come at the expense of good arable land. Surely you can see the sense in limiting the destruction of that irreplaceable asset? Or do you propose a purely hydroponic future?

If you have never been north of Watford Gap, try driving up the MI/A1 to York for the night. Then turn left over the Pennines and pick up the M6 north of Lasncaster before spending a night in Liverpool. Return to your suburb the next day. Easily done in a bank holiday weekend. You will experience beautiful cities in wonderful natural settings with thriving economies.

Why the obsession with further crowding the south-east of England? Perhaps an enlightened government will one day introduce a zonal income tax benefit to encourage resettlement of the north.

28 May 2013 at 23:29  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

28 May 2013 at 23:54  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

So let's say that Bob owns a parcel of land that is ripe for development. The land is worth a great deal of money to those developers, and they will pay Bob a hefty price to get it. It is of course Bob's property, and he should be able to dispose of it as he sees fit. Right?

But wait! Other people think the character of the land should be preserved. Or something. Do they own a share of Bob's land? No, they just think they should have a say in how Bob disposes of it. They seek control but not ownership. Bob of course can't make money off the land unless he sells it. So will someone compensate Bob for the opportunity cost imposed upon him? Will they protect the greenspace by purchasing the land at market cost and let Bob realize the value of his property? Of course not! That would mean someone other than Bob would be out money. They will simply say "It's for the greater good to screw you over, Bob. Too bad for you. We want more green space."

Quick! Let's get back to complaining about Socialism before someone notices. Ahem! Left-wing gov'ts love high density housing and hate automobiles. High population density and low population mobility make people easy to tax and control. We should therefore oppose efforts to increase housing densi....

Oh, wait. That didn't help much, did it?


28 May 2013 at 23:59  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...

If only we could buy a bit of the moon and build houses there...or perhaps it might be possible to do what other countries have done and reclaim land/create artificial islands/lands around the coast?

29 May 2013 at 00:17  
Blogger Peter D said...


The unfettered market and free reign to self interest and the profit motive, then? Perhaps we should still send children up chimneys too or let them work 18 hour shifts. I mean, its what they 'wanted' and their parents - oh, and 'Bob' too.

29 May 2013 at 01:05  
Blogger carl jacobs said...


OK. Screw the Free market. But let's spread the cost a little more equitably, shall we? Most people trade up to move out. So let's pass a law that says you can't sell your house unless the government gives you permission. That won't pour all the cost on one guy in the country. Everyone can share in the sacrifice. Protect the green space. Keep the middle class tax base in the cities where they belong. It's all for the public good.

What's that you say? Theft! Expropriation! Illegal taking of property! Yes, I thought you would say something like that.


29 May 2013 at 02:39  
Blogger Nick said...

I suspect it is only a matter of time before the party starts to unravel. That's unless Tory MPs find the courage to DC the door. A house divided against itself cannot stand

29 May 2013 at 07:00  
Blogger David Hussell said...

Thank you for your kind words.
Thank you too. And to reciprocate, your post is excellent as well. By looking at the precise nature of the land, its soil quality, and its existing vital role within the ecosystems and geomorphology of these gentle south of England flood plains you highlight the shallow, almost childish nature of the "arguments" of the respect nothing, build everywhere brigade, of which Mr Turnbull is clearly a cheerleader. I once faced a purple in the face ignorant developer who asserted, literally in my face, that my refusal to entertain the "conversion" of an historic riverside mill into a sprawling housing estate was sheer romantic nonsense "as these wet, soggy flatlands" ( the flood plain around a small Midlands market town) was of limited use to both the local agriculturalists and industrialists and was only good for playing football on and gathering water! We have all seen the results of weak politically motivated Local Planning Authorities in the sad faces of flooded victims, with their soon to be uninsurable houses and blighted lives. It is indeed difficult for post-modern man to accept that there are certain laws of nature that we must respect and live within, or else disaster follows. We live in age of soaring scientific knowledge and equally vaunting arrogance.
But hey, it's a delightful soft wet day here in Suffolk so I'll enjoy that!

29 May 2013 at 08:33  
Blogger IanCad said...


I can fully understand your disgust with the notion that over here a man can not do want he wants with his own property.
More particularly in respect of gain, or otherwise, from the trading of it.

I am constantly trying to figure out how so many people can live in such a small land, and yet, it remains a landscape of incomparable loveliness.

To counter assaults on the free market I comfort myself with the fact that there never was any reasonable expectation that greenbelt land would be developed. Thus those owning it have long been reconciled to the fact that the value of their land was solely based on its current amenity value, mainly farming or forestry.

In the USA you have the well established right of "Eminent Domain." Broadly, this concept is paralleled in the greenbelt policies under discussion here.

29 May 2013 at 08:36  
Blogger Albert said...


It's all very well for you to say that sort of thing, but you live in a country with loads of land and very little history. Where are your Medieval cities like York, or Cambridge or Canterbury or Durham?

Anyway, I'm sure even the US has some planning laws. As for the suggestion that this is some kind of socialism, I came across an example of an Emperor punishing someone for blocking his neighbour's light in the days of the Byzantine Empire. Were those emperors socialists?

29 May 2013 at 09:10  
Blogger David Hussell said...

I have considerable sympathy with those who are anxious about the loss of an Englishman's right to use his land as he sees fit. The Town and Country Planning Laws, particularly the seminal 1947 one effectively removed many of those rights. As I believe that we should all be as free as possible, whilst respecting the laws of God and any truly, necessary man made laws, which are only just if they reflect the divine laws, I have always been aware that any restrictions on personal liberty, including those statutory tools employed by my fellow professionals, should be minimized and only introduced if really necessary for the common good. However as the wise Town Planning reformers established, with a country this tiny, and so many people, burgeoning in number, plus all the recent technological kit that we use, cars, trucks and all the rest of the "train set" needed to facilitate an efficient and healthy society, there really is no choice but to conserve and control the national land use budget. Philosophically, as a true, natural conservative I don't like it, but I recognize the sheer imperative for the common good of man, economic and spiritual man that is, and our wildlife and landscapes, which are integral to our humanity. So as pragmatists we get on with it, striving to take land use decisions are wisely as possible and equally, controlling our egos in order to introduce the minimum necessary curtailment of our liberty. I hope Burke would agree.

29 May 2013 at 09:18  
Blogger Youthpasta said...

So, let me see if I have got this straight:
The Conservative party no longer conserves the land or the institutions.
The Labour Party is no longer about the "working class".
The Liberal Democrats are neither liberal nor democratic.

Is it any wonder that UKIP is so popular right now? At least they are abe to say that their name tells you part of what they stand for!

29 May 2013 at 10:32  
Blogger Albert said...

Well said, Youthpasta!

29 May 2013 at 10:42  
Blogger David Hussell said...

Spot on Youthpasta !
They have lost their rationale and therefore need to be terminated.
Vote Ukip.

29 May 2013 at 10:52  
Blogger IanCad said...

Albert wrote:

"Anyway, I'm sure even the US has some planning laws--."

You'd better believe they do.

Under the guise of "Mitigation Fees" local authorities can and do impose such financial burdens on land owners who wish to develop their properties as to make it impossible to do so.

Neither are they just limited to the weapon of lucre. Quite often a blanket moratorium may be placed on a development for any reason.

One of the most egregious land grabs was the establishment of the California Coastal Commission. This conclave of the West Coast left effeectively beggared thousands of land owners whose property values were diminished simply by the whims of this cabal.

From my experience let me state that there is less red tape in the UK than there is in the US.

29 May 2013 at 13:10  
Blogger carl jacobs said...


It's all very well for you to say that sort of thing ...

Say what sort of thing? That people shouldn't have the value of their land expropriated? I didn't say the land should be paved over. I said the owners should be compensated at fair market value. But there is no will to do such a thing because of the enormous expense involved. So a majority without financial interest instead decides to impose the entire cost on one land owner. It does so for the public good, but at private cost. Then I wondered aloud why the same public good could not be achieved more efficiently and equitably by requiring all home sales to receive prior gov't permission. What is the difference between selling land and selling a home - other than number of people whose ox gets gored?

... but you live in a country with loads of land and very little history. Where are your Medieval cities like York, or Cambridge or Canterbury or Durham?

What has this to do with anything? The principle does not depend upon the existence of cities in 1250 AD. You are effectively making a man a serf on his own property, and you think your national history justifies that? If you wish to defend the green space, then purchase the land from the public purse. But don't impose the cost on a few select individuals simply because you want an outcome that is otherwise too expensive to achieve.


29 May 2013 at 16:25  
Blogger Tony B said...

Albert, I think you'd be wrong.

29 May 2013 at 21:37  
Blogger Albert said...


I think your points have been ably answered by IanCad at 0836.

You are effectively making a man a serf on his own property,

I think if you looked at the owners of Green belt land you would not think that. In any case, all actions should be taken within the limits of the common good and the common good is perfectly clear here - hence the reference to the lack of land and the abundance of beautiful history.

We've had several of our beautiful cities trashed as gutless or clueless town planners did nothing. They belong to us all, and they are lost or damaged for ever. No amount of property rights can justify that.

30 May 2013 at 10:03  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

30 May 2013 at 15:27  
Blogger carl jacobs said...


I think your points have been ably answered by IanCad at 0836.

Then perhaps you could point out in IanCad's post where he answers my points, because I don't see that he has answered them at all. Specifically:

1. I don't see any answer to the question of purchasing land with public money.

2. I don't see any response to my assertion that this is no different from refusing to allow a sale of a home without gov't permission.

You keep talking about common good, but you don't address common cost. That is the issue I an addressing. You seem content to impose the cost on the few because there is no public will to indemnify their loss. How is this just?


30 May 2013 at 15:31  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

btw. If I might anticipate one possible response. IanCad wrote:

... there never was any reasonable expectation that greenbelt land would be developed. Thus those owning it have long been reconciled to the fact that the value of their land was solely based on its current amenity value, mainly farming or forestry.

If there was no reasonable expectation, then why does this thread exist? Why are activists ripping up cobblestones, making barricades, and defiantly proclaiming "¡No Pasarán!" Since the subject of this thread is resistance to the development of this land, and the gov't is held up as the villain for advocating the development of this land, there exists a self-evident reasonable expectation that the land could be developed.


30 May 2013 at 16:38  
Blogger Albert said...


My point would be that the land is bought in the knowledge that it is Green Belt.

I don't know enough about planning law to answer your second question, but it seems to me to be clear that no one has such full property rights that they can do just anything with their land. Where and how one draws the line is obviously hard - as with all such lines - but someone who buys such land knows what he is getting.

30 May 2013 at 16:51  
Blogger Albert said...

In answer to your latest, it seems that people buy land in the hope of over-turning the law to their own profit and at the expense of other people.

30 May 2013 at 16:52  
Blogger carl jacobs said...


My point would be that the land is bought in the knowledge that it is Green Belt.

That is an adequate response.

If the land was purchased with that knowledge, then the purchaser would be speculating on future development. He would still have a reasonable expectation of development because the law can always be changed. But I would see no reason to indemnify his purchase. He would be out no true value since he purchased the land at a low price. He would only be deprived of the speculative increase. My thoughts however turn to the man who owns the land when the law is passed. He has been deprived of rightful value. It amounts to seizure of assets. He is the man I seek to defend.

It is a settled principle that no parliament can bind a subsequent parliament. So I have no difficulty at all with a man purchasing land, and then lobbying for a land use change in order to increase its value. I would also have no difficulty with those who oppose the change in law. To the extent that this accurately describes the conflict, then I concede you the field.


30 May 2013 at 17:16  
Blogger Albert said...


I agree about the people who owned the land when the law was introduced. The Green Belt law came in just after the war. At that time, Britain had been trashed in almost every way conceivable. The country was impoverished and in debt, our major cities devastated. Homes were destroyed and huge numbers of people were homeless, they lived with relatives, in prefabs and even in converted D-Day landing craft. Big houses had been appropriated by the war effort in order to plan operations or simply to feed people. At that time, as the country tried to pull together, I suspect the issue of who owned the land that became Green Belt would have looked different from how it would look now.

30 May 2013 at 18:23  
Blogger Unknown said...

This is a joke, right? The Conservatives defending Attlee's socialist Planning Act 1947, that forces people to live in overcrowded accommodation, over-expensive accommodation which is amongst the worst in the western world?

The same laws that mean corporations like Barratts sling down entire towns worth of identikit, soulless Barratt boxes in one fell swoop rather than letting people build their own homes, as is largely done in the rest of the civilised world?

It is very unreasonable to crave fields of bluebells when there is a housing crisis and poverty due to landlordism. That field of bluebells could be someones home. And should be, if there is market demand for such, which there so clearly is. You seriously think that your view is important enough for someone to endure living in a quarter million pound rabbit hutch?

Doesn't seem very Christian, or conservative, to me.

30 May 2013 at 20:06  
Blogger IanCad said...

Darn it! Unknown,
I really wish you wouldn't raise awkward facts.
Next it'll be the National Health Service.
Please allow us free marketeers a little slack.

31 May 2013 at 15:03  
Blogger Unknown said...

The NHS is far from ideal but at least it doesn't have rationing at the very core of its mission statement. Whereas rationing is absolutely what the planning laws are all about.

There is no shortage of land, there is certainly a shortage of planning permission though. Land is cheap, land with planning permission is too expensive for the average worker without taking on crippling and economically dangerous amounts of debt.

31 May 2013 at 21:01  

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