I’ve been flicking through the increasingly infamous new Policy Exchange report – ‘Cities Unlimited’ – and, despite fairly extraordinary ambitions, much of it seems a little thin. The denunciations of the “beyond revival” northern cities have caused the bulk of the backlash, but with regards to London the authors fancy an urban expansion of at least a mile, and also urge councils to convert industrial land into residential land. They acknowledge that urbanisation would not be popular, but claim, somewhat speculatively, that the increased value of the land would be sufficient to allow for the abolition of council tax.

An element that I’ll focus on is social housing. The report makes the admission that “virtually no one in social housing moves for job related reasons“. To counter this problem, the authors “imagine that people from Blackpool will move to an expanding Bromley“. Yet, as the quoted CASE report demonstrates, a growing number of those claiming social housing are disabled or retired. Their incentive for upping sticks to an increasingly urbanised capital is not given.

David Cameron has hurried to tell us that the report is ‘insane‘, but what does Boris – or his Policy Director – think?

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