John_Myers

Founder at londonyimby.org and yimbyalliance.org - personal blog at ziggurat.substack.com

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Cause Area: UK Housing Policy

Thanks John! We are still getting encouraging signals from the current regime that they would like to take this on, and I am not aware of significant political opposition within the Conservative party; on the contrary, street votes seem to be broadly supported. Their last attempt at planning reform was always going to be deeply controversial because, unlike street votes, it was not designed to be as politically palatable as possible. I cannot say I was surprised that it ran into difficulties.

Street votes are vastly less controversial, because they have gone through years of design changes based on feedback from those most likely to oppose, and considerable work on framing and coalition building. There is still a strong impetus within government for planning reform of some kind. I think any such reform is likely to be included in a wider bill on Levelling Up, and will deliberately be presented in a conciliatory way, not in the contentious fashion that was found in the White Paper. 

The key point I think is that this is very much not a non-zero sum game, and the details of the attempted strategy matter hugely. Most analysis misses that fundamental point.

In short, I think there is still good hope. To answer your question, yes Labour could also take this on if it has not happened before the next election. We have listed the current wide coalition of support including Labour and social housing voices at yimbyalliance.org/streetplans. Street votes are now also supported by over 25 Conservative MPs, not all of them listed there. Another paper in similar vein will be published later this month, again with a wide range of endorsements.

Cause Area: UK Housing Policy

Thank you for posting this Peter. I agree that the uptake for street votes is likely to be low. (This may be like cryonics, where those who opt for cryonics assign a lower probability to cryonics being successful than those who do not.) I would highlight two things: (a) the fact that the Strong Suburbs report models enormous housing production from an uptake rate of only a few percent, and (b) the enormous, life-changingly large incentives to take up street votes - literally over a million pounds per household in some cases. I have spoken to over a hundred homeowners who are interested.  I agree that many comfortable middle class families will not want to be disturbed. But some of those in more difficult circumstances may find the large incentives very appealing.

George mentions the London YIMBY brand but it is worth noting that the broader YIMBY Alliance campaign is a cross country campaign and is highly supportive of street votes. There have been endorsements from politicians from a wide range of areas, in different parties. 

Cause Area: UK Housing Policy

I agree with that Stephen. I might nuance it to say that there have not been such campaigns to promote policies that are optimised for political achievability.