Since Margaret Thatcher came to power in 1979 some 2 million hectares of public land has been sold off, largely to private developers. As this useful FT piece makes clear it is the biggest privatisation we’ve never heard of.
It’s enriched developers and signally failed to encourage housebuilding on anything like the scale the country needs:
Throughout the past four decades, and especially since the global financial crisis, one of Whitehall’s principal justifications for driving the sale of public land has been to enable the private sector to build new homes on it. But it is increasingly clear that the private sector has under-delivered.
Much of the public land released to developers in recent years has not been built on but has instead simply been added to their already engorged land banks. The average number of years of housing supply sitting in the major UK housebuilders’ ‘current’ banks — those containing land that has, or is close to receiving, planning permission — doubled from around three in 2006 to around six a decade later.
Although Sir Oliver Letwin’s final report into landbanking practices was a damp squib, the letter he wrote to Philip Hammond and Sajid Javid midway through his investigations made clear the issue. When developers bank rather than build on land (including ex-public land) they do so not due to the alleged “web of commercial and industrial constraints” but because building too many homes too soon risks ‘disturbing the market price’ of housing. In other words, it hits profits.
— Read on ftalphaville.ft.com/2018/11/08/1541675709000/The-collapse-in-public-ownership-of-land/
Worth reading in full.
Catching up with a recent Late Junction devoted to the sound of siblings singing and playing together. Only two tracks in and I’ve fallen in. Love with this from a Congolese group recorded in the 1980s:
At this time of year, just as the sun sets and the garden settles into shadow, one last ray catches the top of the tree – like a goodnight kiss.
There’s a huge wind blowing outside. The sound of it in the trees is one of the reasons I love this house. Buffets are gentled as the tree sways, its branches thrash and the energy is absorbed. You hear the same dissipation of sound and force when a wave breaks on a pebbled beach.
I found myself thinking of the last line of Larkin’s poem, Absences:
Such attics cleared of me! Such absences!
Here’s the whole poem:
Rain patters on a sea that tilts and sighs.
Fast-running floors, collapsing into hollows,
Tower suddenly, spray-haired. Contrariwise,
A wave drops like a wall: another follows,
Wilting and scrambling, tirelessly at play
Where there are no ships and no shallows.
Above the sea, the yet more shoreless day,
Riddled by wind, trails lit-up galleries:
They shift to giant ribbing, sift away.
Such attics cleared of me! Such absences!
Listen to the trees!
Did I mention Sister Corita? We came across her by accident earlier this summer in a visit to the lovely museum of art and craft in Ditchling
We didn’t know there was an exhibition on and had gone there to see works by Edward Johnston, Eric Gill and other craft workers in the Catholic Guild Gill founded in the village.
They were political in their way. Phillip Hagreen’s prints still have power:
and a very characteristic cleanness of line, a modern unfussiness. What they don’t have is pzazz! Sister Corita has. In spades.
The connection between them is catholicism. Sister Corita was an American nun, working on prints and printmaking and, through the 50s, 60s and beyond engaging directly with the radical politics of the day – Vietnam, consumerism, poverty the need to bring christianity into people’s lives.
(from the website)
The ground-breaking work of Corita Kent (1918-1986) comes to Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft this summer. Corita was an artist, a famously charismatic educator and a Roman Catholic nun based in Los Angeles during the 1960s. A contemporary of Andy Warhol and Ed Ruscha, her vibrant screenprinted banners and posters drew on pop and modern consumer cultures and became increasingly political throughout the decade. Her bright, bold work confronted issues of poverty, racism and war with an aesthetic more aligned with protest movements of the time than traditional religious imagery. Frequently appearing on the streets surrounding the Immaculate Heart College in Los Angeles, where she taught, Kent’s imagery aimed to capture the public imagination in order to influence social change.
The effect of walking into a room full of her prints (especially after the restraint and control of those great English craftworkers) is extraordinary.
For some time now – watching battles rage on twitter and in the press, reading with horror (but no surprise) about the effect off placing trans women in women’s prisons – I have been trying to make sense in my own mind of the rights and wrongs of trans activism and it’s impact on the rules and choices society makes about gender.
Sarah Ditum’s (long) piece here is the best map of the territory that I’ve found. Any quote pulled out of context would be an injustice – worth reading in full:
Six years in the gender wars – Sarah Ditum
— Read on sarahditum.com/2018/09/10/six-years-in-the-gender-wars/amp/
This needs to be sorted out quickly!