Duncan Bowie: Politics, planning and homes in a world city
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Britain has led the world in handing over power to market forces in almost every sphere of life. The transformation of society unleashed here by the IMF in the late 1970s and by Thatcher in the 1980s has now been unfolding for three decades and some of the most severe effects have arisen in the housing field as yet another generation makes the painful discovery that market relationships do not meet society’s housing needs. No surprise that housing is the central issue in urban planning.
This is especially so in London and surrounding regions where the contradictions are at their worst: the low-wage populations needed in a global city can’t afford the market rents; council tenants are squeezed as stock is privatised and maintenance postponed; over-crowding intensifies in public and private sectors; employers have trouble recruiting and retaining staff because housing costs are so high; construction output fails to respond to booming demand···.
In former times these problems were solved,...