Friday, 13 February 2009

Budget 5: Economic Resilience

The administration has put £1.3m more into measures to be used to respond to the economic downturn. But again, there is a need to think out of the box. Take, for example, the planning system. The Planning Act 2006, much of which comes into force this year, does little to break the logjam and address the inefficiencies of the planning system. It was a missed opportunity - but there are things the Council can do.

Conservatives propose abolishing the requirement on developers to provide 25% of homes they build as 'affordable housing'. This operates as a 25% tax on housebuilding in developments of over 11 homes. We need affordable homes - but the bigger issue is that Edinburgh is short of homes altogether. And the building industry is almost at a standstill. This measure is needed to help kickstart the economy.

There is another reason why Edinburgh Council should abolish the 25% affordable housing requirement on builders. It has been a spectacular failure. Between 2001 and 2007 it produced only 296 homes. In addition, it had been expected to depress land prices. The evidence is that it pushed them up.

New thinking is needed in this area as well..

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