Saturday, 12 May 2012

The Cost of Land

From an item I found on the 'Herald Scotland' web site - dated Friday 11 May - by Rog Wood:

Herald web page here

The market for agricultural land in Scotland remains buoyant, with good arable fetching up to £10,000 per acre, but those with land that has development potential need a reality check over values.

That was the view of Andrew Wood, Group Partner in land agents Bidwells, when he addressed farming journalists in Perth.
According to Mr Wood, development land on Edinburgh's outskirts that may have been worth £1 million per acre before the property bubble burst, may only be worth half that today.
Elsewhere, farmers might only be able to get £150,000 per acre for land worth £500,000 at the peak of the market.
Mr Wood explained many residential land option agreements are being re-negotiated, or have been found to be difficult to operate in the current, depressed market conditions.
Apart from developers having increased costs due to delays in selling houses as a result of buyers finding it difficult to sell their own house or securing mortgages, local authorities are demanding bigger "planning gain".
That can range from the developer providing infrastructure like increased sewerage capacity, or contributions to providing school upgrades and even new schools, to building a proportion of affordable houses.
"The market has shifted from big development schemes to more modest ones," he added.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

"It is not the People who are Broken"

The ‘political class’ has got to give up on its lazy recourse of blaming ‘apathy’ for low turnout. People turn out when they think they can make a difference. In most communities they know they can’t. So blame the system, not the people.  

Full item here

The above is an extract taken from a piece written on 04 May 2012 by Robin McAlpine and was published on 'The Jimmy Reid Foundation' web site.  The web site states here that;

...The Foundation is not affiliated to any political party or organisation but works closely with anyone interested in a more progressive future for Scotland. By making strenuous efforts to maintain party political neutrality the Foundation aims to offer a home for all people of the left in Scotland.

Mr McAlpine's piece urges readers to look at the Report, 'The Silent Crisis' which I am in the process of going through in more detail.  

A few things that struck chords with me on my first speed read were:

'...It is time we fully recognised the state of democracy in Scotland...'

'...This is an existential crisis for local democracy. If we do nothing to address this very clear problem we will end up with a nation in which politics is the preserve of a tiny cadre of professional politicians who are separate from the rest of society.'

'...We will continue to live in a country where professional managers make decisions for your community with little reference to your community, and they will continue to do it in ‘job lots’ – not building a school for you but building half a dozen schools for a standardised notion of what a community is. And these blanket policies applied across diverse communities will simply dilute diversity and create homogenous ‘clone towns’'

'...In Scotland we have been kidding ourselves on that a few successful audits of local authority bureaucracy have shown there is no problem. But worse than that, the letters pages of many newspapers suggest that we aren’t even widely aware of our status as the least locally democratic nation in the developed world.'

Well I certainly was not aware of the stats presented in this report regarding exactly how undemocratic the country is.

The Report recommends, 'an extra layer of democratic decision-making to guide and instruct...bureaucracy', however that there must also be'...some core principles that must be adhered to in devising that layer of democracy, central among which is that democracy must be universal and not ‘voluntarist

I would, as always be interested to hear your views and recommend reading this blog post in the light of previous APT posts:

Be a Councillor Campaign

...local government must demonstrate its trustworthiness

May elections, candidates views on planning sought

With grateful thanks to one of our faithful committee members for alerting me to the existence of the report.