Housing – part 11: No cars in the city
Written for a housing forum
The Carbon Budget Morality Index
In the following sections, I assume a rule of thumb that a decent, morally justified lifestyle must keep with a total budget of 100 tonnes CO2e for the next 50 years. This is the basis for the Carbon Budget Morality Index (CBMI) discussed in Are you evil or very, evil?. The 100 tonnes 50 year budget is classed by the CBMI as ‘shameful’ but at least it’s morality index is below the CBMI ‘evil’ level. In this post the ‘shameful’ level will be referred to as CMBI-s level.
Mass car ownership cannot be sustainable or fair
Continue reading Housing – part 11: No cars in the city
Housing – part 10: A reprise.
Written for a housing forum
Previous parts can be grouped into three sections:
Section 1. The biggest global issue – climate change
1: Embodied carbon and climate
The way we build and the materials used damage the climate.
2: Food and the remaining carbon budget
Modern agriculture and our consumption damage the environment.
3: Carbon budgets and transport
Our travel patterns and means of transport are unsustainable.
Section 2. Planning policies burden the poor
4: We are not short of land
A very small portion of the UK is built-up.
5: Construction costs
Modern methods are reducing construction costs.
Greenbelts protect privilege – at the expense of the majority.
Section 3. Public health & public safety
6: Pollution in the countryside
The countryside is being polluted.
7: Pollution in towns
Towns are being polluted.
8: Density and disease
Good public health allows denser settlements.
Continue reading Housing – part 10: A reprise.
Written for a housing policy forum. Part 9
Also see: Housing – part 4: We are not short of land
City of York ‘greenbelt’
Traditionally green belts were seen to stop urban sprawl and were the ‘green lungs’ of the city. This emphasised public health issues such as slum clearance. The policy is seen as a major instrument in terms of protecting the environment against environmental damage as a result of overdevelopment. It is a policy which is believed will to ‘protect the countryside’.
Population density and disease
Written for a housing policy forum. Part 8
Sanitation in Shakespeare’s London
Woodcut from ShakespearesEngland.co.uk.
The advantages of high population densities
Continue reading Housing – part 8: Density and disease
Pollution in Towns
In the old days coal pollution killed
I grew up in Kent some 30 miles from the great London Smog of 1952, which killed 4,000 Londoners in less than a week and, eventually contributed to 100,000 deaths. When we came to York in 1970, pollution from coal fires was still a problem – I clearly remember walking through the Groves and seeing sooty particles land on the bright yellow baby suit of our year-old daughter.
With coal pollution receding, York’s air improved and so did the look of the inner city terraced houses. Since the 1970s they have gradually lightened in colour and their value has risen. Houses that 1948 Plan for York described as “worn out houses” costing a thousand or so pounds in 1970, now sell for over £200,000. That’s a 20 fold increase in real terms.
Now traffic pollution kills
Continue reading Housing – part 7: Pollution in towns
Written for a housing policy forum. Part 6
We pollute the countryside
The countryside is not as clean and green as it seems. In part 2, I noted the large carbon footprint of modern non-organic agriculture, particularly the methane emitted by ruminants (cows, sheep, goats &etc.) and the use of nitrogen compounds derived from the energy intensive Harber Bosh process. I also discussed the carbon footprint of “modern”, non-organic, food production but there are other unwelcome impacts. Three of these:
- Loss of soil fertility
- The nitrate time bomb
Continue reading Housing – part 6: Pollution in the countryside
Written for a housing policy forum. Part 5
Construction is a fraction of the cost
The cost of building a traditional house is a modest part of the cost of a new home: In York it is less than the cost of the land when it has planning permission. Not long ago it has been possible to build an individual 3 bed roomed house for about £50,000. I know someone had one built for £50,000 – on land they already owned.
Bricks and mortar houses built in the conventional style
Regional prices for new houses
Continue reading Housing – part 5: Construction and prefabrication
A note for a housing policy forum. Part 4
We are not short of land
Key point: Planning permission adds enormous value to land
A plot of land big enough for a house costs less than £1,000 at agricultural prices.
In places like York, that becomes £50,000, sometimes much more, once the planners give building the go ahead. Planning permission makes no immediate difference to the land: but its name on a certificate in a council office gives an enormous unearned bonus to the land owner. Continue reading Housing – part 4: We are not short of land