Friday, 27 December 2013

Pick 2 out of 3: Cheap housing, low density housing, no urban sprawl

In When you buy a house, you shouldn't buy the neighbourhood with it Matt Cowgill looks at the rising cost of housing and makes the point:
I think we've tipped the scales too far in favour of those who want to restrict development. The consequence of this is that housing is more expensive than it otherwise would be. That's fine for people who already own their own home, but it hurts the young and the poor.

There's a trade-off at play here, one that can't be wished away or ignored. With a growing population, you can't restrict rising density in established suburbs, prevent sprawl on the urban fringes, and prevent housing from being unaffordable. Pick two out of the three. The urge to preserve historic neighbourhoods, the desire the conserve all the green bits around our cities, and the wish to maintain affordable housing are all noble impulses with which I sympathise. But, again, we can't have them all.

If you stop density from rising in the inner city, you push people further out to the fringes. If you try and stop this sprawl, prices will soar. People will spend longer living at home or in share houses than they’d like, and we'll suffer through more of those tiresome pieces in newspaper lifestyle supplements speculating about the deep cultural cause of this allegedly dysfunctional generation's protracted adolescence.

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