Keir Starmer Britain Target Extreme Citi Remark Party Keir Starmer Britain

Green belts once served a vital purpose, but now they are squeezing the life out of cities

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I magine a reservoir of wealth, worth very many billions of pounds, a latter-day North Sea oil, lying underneath the country.

One that, what’s more, is public property. What government would not want to turn it to the benefit of its favoured policies – for example to ending the nation’s eternally unsolved housing crisis, to returning to young and not-so-young people the degree of access to decent housing that former generations enjoyed?This reservoir exists.

It consists of the potential value of land that is released when planning permission is granted for housing, or other profitable development.

Thanks to the postwar government of Clement Attlee, whose nationalisation of development rights is still partly unprivatised, it belongs to government.

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