Tuesday, May 15, 2007



I notice that Gordon Brown has said that he wants 100,000 homes in carbon neutral communities to be built on old industrial sites to help to create a home-owning, asset-owning, wealth-owning democracy. Each of the new homes in his five Eco towns would be built to zero-rated carbon standards and be exempt from stamp duty.

That will be an amazing achievement if he carries it off. Amazing because the exemption for stamp duty that he is introducing in the Finance Bill will expire on 30 September 2012. As, by definition, an old industrial site is probably contaminated land this means that he expects to be able to decontaminate the land, design five whole new towns, obtain the necessary planning consent, build the new homes and sell them, all within a five-year period.

I would have expected it to take five years for most property developers to get planning permission for such an ambitious project, let alone anything else. I assume that Gordon intends to introduce a special fast planning process and engage a massive team of designers in order to be able to achieve this amazing promise within the five-year timescale that his own Finance Bill requires him to meet.

Robert W Maas


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