The politics of crazy – when dogma divorces decision makers from reality

Am I reading this right?

[…] just a quarter of the 160,000 new homes earmarked for the Thames Gateway have been completed, with output needing to increase significantly over the next decade. The challenge will be to pull in sufficient demand for new homes as volumes rise, otherwise rates of sale and completions will fall short of target.

– from Savills Summer 2007 residential research bulletin, the Thames Gateway Report.

The Thames Gateway is an extensive stretch of land running east out of London along the river toward the Thames estuary, and has been marked for ‘Europe’s largest regeneration project’. It’s low lying. You’d think that – with warnings of sea-level rises and more flooding from climate change, having piled up over the past few years, especially after this summer in the UK – the government would have been cautious about green lighting this housing development. But no. The government has been trying to brainwash the nation that millions of new homes are needed – no doubt to accommodate the increasing individualisation in everybody’s lives. And yet, here is one of the UK’s most illustrious estate agents saying that the challenge will be to generate demand!

The Savills bulletin goes on –

Attraction of demand will rest on the level of investment in infrastructure and place, including high quality schools, shops, leisure facilities and public realm.

Er, robust flood defenses and insurance guaranteed, too? Not yet.

Given recent events, it is likely that more will have to be spent on flood protection than previously estimated. As capacity constraints and sustainablity standards add to construction costs and pressure intensifies for higher developer contributions to affordable housing, a realistic view on land value will be essential to delivery.

Sounds like there’s a risk this development might be a bit of a sinking ship. Whoops – another profound lack of systemic analysis brought to you by the UK government. A benefit of the project has been that it’s generated lots of employment – probably the primary purpose of the project from the outset, to the government’s eyes – but I thought jobs were meant to do something useful? The employment mantra can be a dogma that’s divorces decision makers from reality.

One Response to “The politics of crazy – when dogma divorces decision makers from reality”

  1. Bill Bryson on the Thames Gateway ‘free for all’ « Sumptuous World Says:

    […] and the excuse that is the Thames Gateway for developers to paint the countryside grey – a recent Sumptuous World topic. I was interested to hear him use the word ‘perfect’ a couple of times, when describing […]

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