Controversially, Westminster City Council is proposing in its 2019-2040 Vision to place a ban on mega mansions.
However, it’s Westminster’s definition of a mega mansion that seems extraordinary? It plans to class anything over 150sqm as a mega mansion!
What we are all in agreement about is that the UK faces real housing problems and has done for many years. These need to be addressed and the measures put in place to date have not been significant enough. But placing absurd and arbitrary limits on house or apartment sizes is merely tinkering. Trying to manipulate a market like this has been proven to fail, time and time again. George Osborne hiking stamp duty to raise revenues was an abject failure and has caused major issues in the property market.
Leon Kalkwarf explains his point of view, “Admittedly, we do work in the luxury end of the market, however, my argument is not sour grapes. A thriving economy is key for London and the UK and not just for the benefit of the “super rich. If we keep layering restriction after restriction on investment flowing into the country, it’s game over and all segments of society loose.”
Foreign investors are necessary to keep London’s economy vibrant. By investors I don’t only mean landlords, I mean people willing buy property as well as those who want to set up and continue to do business in the UK. There are a lot of events in the recent past that have discouraged investors and investment as they are sending the wrong message to the world. This isn’t the time to be sending out further negative signals.
Is Westminster directly targeting developers? I find that hard to believe when it has been a significant beneficiary of foreign investment and the efforts of property developers.
Good developers understand the market, what the market wants and needs. Admittedly they do sometime lead the market, but in general they build to demand. It is not anecdotal that developers are starting to build smaller units in Westminster as we are involved in projects where this is happening. But if the council tries to manipulate supply to satisfy a demand which perhaps doesn’t exist inevitably this will lead to a negative outcome. Have the unintended consequences been considered? Manipulating a market seldom works.
We cannot afford to become an inward looking, insular city or country. Is London open or closed for business?