The families who have been living under canvas in Worcester all week have only one more night to wait. By this time tomorrow they should have pocketed the keys to the former army homes being sold for around £125,000 – some £25,000 less than the market price.
This vignette says everything about the British property market, not least that £125,000 is now considered a knock-down price. What it shows is that demand exceeds supply, and that people are prepared to go to almost any lengths to secure a toehold on the housing ladder.
It was to address this mismatch that the government commissioned the report into housing supply by Kate Barker. Her conclusion was that unless more homes are built property prices will continue to rise more rapidly than incomes, thereby putting house purchase out of reach for more families.
Predictably, the report has met with fury from the conservation lobby. The impression given by Max Hastings, among others, is that Barker represents the biggest threat to rural Britain since the Black Death, and that if the government follows her recommendations the result will be the transformation of England, south of a line from the Wash to the Severn, into an amorphous estate.
Credit where credit’s due to Max. It takes real chutzpah to be pictured by the Sunday Times lolling against the gates of your country estate while asking insouciantly: “Do we not owe it to our descendants to check our …