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Urban Containment, Housing Affordability and Price Stability - Irreconcilable Goals

The planning goals of urban containment and now densification conceive of houses in terms of physical units and of land 'supply' as the area allocated for housing by the planning system; estimates of 'demand' are driven by household projections. Prices and price volatility are, however, determined by economic forces and there is a fatal mismatch between the operational concepts of demand and supply in markets and the parallel concepts with which the planning system works. Planning allocates a scarce resource - land - so is fundamentally an economic activity; but its decisions are made independently of price or market information. Moreover the concepts used by the planning systems vary with institutional arrangements and culture. Underlying these fatal clashes is the fact that housing is a complex good with many attributes, each of which is subject to particular supply and demand conditions and that one of the most important attributes of houses is space - both inside and around them. So the more planning systems attempt to densify development or to confine new housing to 'brownfield' land, the more inelastic supply of a vital housing attribute is, the more 'unaffordable' housing becomes and the more volatile housing markets will be. There are solutions - but none of them comfortable for policy makers.

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Paper provided by Spatial Economics Research Centre, LSE in its series SERC Policy Papers with number 004.

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Date of creation: Sep 2009
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Handle: RePEc:cep:sercpp:004
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.spatialeconomics.ac.uk/SERC/publications/policy_papers.asp

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  1. Paul C. Cheshire & Christian A.L. Hilber, 2008. "Office Space Supply Restrictions in Britain: The Political Economy of Market Revenge," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 118(529), pages F185-F221, 06.
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  3. Rosen, Sherwin, 1974. "Hedonic Prices and Implicit Markets: Product Differentiation in Pure Competition," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(1), pages 34-55, Jan.-Feb..
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  5. Paul Cheshire & Stephen Sheppard, 2001. "The Welfare Economics of Land Use Planning," Department of Economics Working Papers 2001-03, Department of Economics, Williams College.
  6. P. C. Cheshire & Stephen Charles Sheppard, 2005. "The introduction of price signals into land use planning decision-making : a proposal," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 568, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  7. J. Phillips & E. Goodstein, 2000. "Growth management and housing prices: the case of Portland, Oregon," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 18(3), pages 334-344, 07.
  8. Paul Cheshire & Stephen Sheppard, 2004. "Capitalising the Value of Free Schools: The Impact of Supply Characteristics and Uncertainty," Department of Economics Working Papers 2004-17, Department of Economics, Williams College.
  9. Jackson, Jerry R. & Johnson, Ruth C. & Kaserman, David L., 1984. "The measurement of land prices and the elasticity of substitution in housing production," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(1), pages 1-12, July.
  10. Edward L. Glaeser & Joseph Gyourko, 2003. "The impact of building restrictions on housing affordability," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue Jun, pages 21-39.
  11. Jan Rouwendal & J. Willemijn van der Straaten, 2008. "The Costs and Benefits of Providing Open Space in Cities," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 08-001/3, Tinbergen Institute.
  12. Paul Cheshire & Stephen Sheppard, 2005. "Introducing Price Signals into Land Use Planning Decision-making - a Proposal," ERSA conference papers ersa05p42, European Regional Science Association.
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