Hi everyone 👋,

📝 The Main Bit

In last week’s newsletter I wrote about how Michael Eavis has gifted land to a Housing Association for the development of affordable social housing for local residents of Pilton in Somerset.  He was quoted saying that if all farmers donated ten acres of land for development, then the housing problem would be solved.  While this does not seem to be a viable solution for most landowners, there is a landowner in England who has approximately 200,000 acres of land and in 2019 commissioned the Coming Home report to help tackle the housing crisis.

Since the formation of the Church of England in the Middle Ages, property and land has often been gifted from the wealthy.  The collection of land over this lengthy time has been owned and maintained by the Church Commissioners who are the Church of England’s main property arm.

Their report sets out five core values that define what good housing should look like: sustainable, safe, stable, sociable, and satisfying.  And challenges the Church to do its part by using its land and resources for the development of truly affordable homes.  It also encourages the Church to recognise social housing as fundamental to a society where no one is left behind, and communities thrive.

According to the National Housing Federation there are currently around eight million people in England that are living in overcrowded, unaffordable, or unsuitable housing.  For scale, on Census Day, 21st March 2021, the population of England was recorded as being 56,490,048 meaning that the 8 million people account for over 14% of the nation.  On average there are 2.4 people per household which would make approximately 3.3 million households that are living overcrowded, unaffordable, or unsuitable conditions.  That is not to say that 3.3 million properties need to be built because optimising the use of current stock would help alleviate some of the problem.

They propose a new Social Disposal Measure enabling the use of their land and buildings for social, environmental, and economic benefit.  The disposure of land is planned to deliver 28,500 new homes across England of which only 8,600 will be affordable.  This number highlights a big issue…if what is one of the largest landowners in England can only offer this much and it barely scratches the surface a systemic change is going to be necessary to combat the problem.

Also, mirroring the farmers from last week, the land owned by the Church of England generates the income that pays the salaries of the clergy and is required to be continued under Church Law.  Therefore, the selling off or donation of some parcels of land is not going to be possible without compromising their base operations.  And even if Parishes did try to sell off land, there is an implication in Charity Law that requires it to be sold to the highest bidder which blocks a developer who may be trying to build low-cost affordable housing when competing against a developer planning to build property for sale onto the open market at the highest premium.

What is suggested, and I agree, is a much longer-term plan.

A problem we face is the selfish motives of every government, regardless of party.  Manifestos are written to win favour of voters and housing is often near the top of the list because it is so emotive.  Every few years promises are made and broken in a constant political rhetoric.  To fix the housing market for the nation requires a single agreed pathway that can be structured and built upon for decades not just a few years of even a few months until the next Housing Minister is brought in.

Maybe how the Bank of England is supposed to be separate from the Government, Housing of England should be separate too.  Policies and agendas of the Government at the time should have a reduced political bias meaning that a more sustainable approach could be created.  Law relaxation surrounding the sale and repurposing of land for housing might move through parliament easier without self-interested blocking from the opposition.  I am sure a systemic change like that would need Royal approval.  I wonder if the previous Duke of Cornwall might approve considering his strong principles during his time running the Duchy of Cornwall.  Not forgetting who the Supreme Governor of the Church of England is now.

🕵️‍♂️ Property Glossary

I share definitions each week of words and terms that pop up now and then in the property world and can be confusing.

Carbon Monoxide

A toxic gas that is colourless, odourless, and tasteless. It is produced by the incomplete combustion of carbon-based fuels such as gas, oil, and wood.

CO binds to haemoglobin in the blood, reducing the amount of oxygen that can be transported to vital organs and tissues, leading to potential death.

Apps I Use

Readwise – I’ve been paying for Readwise since 2021 and gained access to Readwise Reader Beta in 2022 and find it extremely useful for knowledge retention and research. I pass all my email newsletters through it and whenever I get a spare few minutes I can pick up where I last left off without any friction.

If you sign up using the link you’ll get an extra month free (two in total) so you can really test out the software without it costing you a penny. They don’t advertise widely so it is down to word of mouth like this that gets the tool new users. I find it invaluable.

Monzo – Carefully budgeting my spending is fundamental to being able to save towards the build. Monzo has helped me track and itemise spending for years. I now pay for the Premium account which gives me access to extra features and things like airport lounge access, phone insurance, worldwide travel insurance so it practically pays for itself. If you join using this link we’ll both get £5 (which I’ll use towards the build!).

Focus@Will – This app has superpowers. It has the ability to allow me to switch off from a noisy home and get some work done and it seems to work for me in about 5 minutes.


I’m now on:

Twitter as @Brendan_Burr

Instagram as @MeasureTwiceBuildOnce

Pinterest as @MeasureTwiceBuildOnce

Snipd for Podcasts @MTBO

Threads as @MeasureTwiceBuildOnce

That’s it for this week, thanks for reading!


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