More of Surrey is now devoted to golf courses than housing, according to provocative new research that claims to dispel many of the myths associated with Britain’s housing boom.
A study by the Centre for Economic Performance at LSE suggests soaring house prices are not caused by an influx of foreign buyers but are down to restrictive planning policies that have ensured the country’s green belt is a form of “discriminatory zoning, keeping the urban unwashed out of the home counties”.
Paul Cheshire, professor emeritus of economic geography at LSE and a researcher at the Spatial Economics Research Centre, has produced data showing that restrictive planning laws have turned houses in the south-east into valuable assets in an almost equivalent way to artworks. He points out that twice as many houses were built in Doncaster and Barnsley in the five years to 2013 than in Oxford and Cambridge.
As a result of the policy that specifically safeguards green belts, Cheshire claims houses have not been built where they are most needed or most wanted – “in the leafier and prosperous bits of ex-urban England”.