One bit he gets right. The Normans were indeed efficient and ruthless conquerors.
But this bit I’m afraid he’s off with the fairies again:
Take house prices. According to the author Kevin Cahill, the main driver behind the absurd expense of owning land and property in Britain is that so much of the nation’s land is locked up by a tiny elite.
Well, no. Not really: in fact this is simply wrong, entirely and totally.
Because land is not a major part of a house price. Therefore the cost of land isn’t a major influence on the price of a house. And if that’s true then who owns the land isn’t an important issue when considering the price of housing.
We’ve been through these numbers so many times before but once more into hte breach. Even in the south of England you can buy land for £10,000 a hectare or under. Under current planning law you have to put 14 houses on that plot.
So, the cost of land for a house is, to an acceptable level of accuracy here, £1,000.
This isn’t expensive and it’s not the Norman Dukes and Earls, nor their descendants, holding us all to ransom.
A house costs in the region of £120k to build (get a reasonable 3 bedder for that). Thus the production cost of a 3 bedroomed house in hte south of England should be around £121k. They actually cost £300k and up.
The difference is of course the scarcity value. But it’s not the scarcity of the land: we’ve only built on some 10% of the country (that includes everything, from playing fields to roads, factories and houses). Houses themselves are more like 3% of the place.
It’s the scarcity of ther planning permission that allows you to build a house on the land. Easy enough to prove: just look at the difference in value of land without such permission and with it.
I recall a case from a few years ago. Little strip of land in a London park. There has been houses on it pre-WWII. Under post WWII legislation anything that had been wiped out by the bombing had planning permission to be rebuilt. Local council, who had absorbed this land into the park, insisted that that was nonsense, that they weren’t going to allow rebuilding.
This went through the court system and the final outcome was: as part of the park, without planning permission, the land was worth £15,000 (numbers from memory here). With the planning permission that the court agreed the law insisted the land had, £1.5 million.
See? It’s the planning permission that provides the value, not Norman era land holdings.
Which means that the tiny elite which make housing expensive is not the landed familes, it is rather all those greasy little fuckers in the council planning departments. Hang them and housing will get cheaper.