Well, the Covid ‘be at one with your environment and love all things green’ honeymoon is well and truly over.

The Government's plan to build, build, build continues unabated and, much like the Covid restrictions, it is a plan that looks like it was drawn up by a stable of kindergarten kids at break time.

The go to ‘cuss’ for people like me is NIMBY (not in my back yard) yet I find no offence in that accusation being levelled. Would any of us, having bought or moved into properties, want a block of flats erected bordering our gardens or a building site creating a permanent blot on the landscape at the end of our streets?

By rallying against it, the ‘go to’ is to accuse such people as intolerant, as the well-worn but totally misleading mantra of ‘we need more housing!’ is trotted out, when the truth is anything but.

Take little London Colney in Hertfordshire as an example, and there are many more like her near to you. Nestled between St Albans and the M25, it is a semi-rural village with 10,000 residents.

Hertsmere Council, a different borough which borders London Colney, is planning a garden village of 5,000-plus homes, which sounds a lot more palatable than ‘huge new building site as we desecrate more than 2,000 acres of green belt land’ as ‘we need new homes!’. The truth is we don’t.

There are more than enough brownfield sites, but with brownfield, councils like Hertsmere do not receive tens of millions in new homes bonuses and council tax revenues as well as keeping their Tory paymasters happy by adhering to their ruinous plans.

The sitting MP, Minister for Culture, and self-styled ‘defender of the countryside’, Oliver Dowden, remains quieter than completely schtum on the matter. By planning such a monstrous development away from his voter base, he not only keeps his boss happy but the upward trajectory of his career remains on course (don’t bet against the ambitious Dowden one day being party leader).

So, what does 2,000 plus acres look like away from the architectural visions where the sun always shines, and folk are perennially happy with smirks tattooed to their cartoon faces?

Well it’s the equivalent of 32,000 tennis courts and bigger by 25 per cent than the entire Gatwick airport site, including runways, link roads, hotels and terminals. We are told the houses are needed for local people despite their inability ever to be able to afford such an investment.

Affordable homes are an area shrouded in mystery and each borough's methodology differs, but at best they equate to around a 20 per cent ‘discount’ on the current market price.

The average price in Colney, at this point in time is, conservatively, £400,000. Now, using that figure and bearing in mind prices are nigh on doubling every decade, the current affordable cost would be £320,000. With a £32,000 deposit. If you have somehow managed to save such an amount, you would be going for a mortgage of £288,000 and needing a salary of £72,000 to even get a look in.

So you’re 21, saddled with university debt, up against millions with degrees, you have no deposit, the average UK salary is 29k, yet to get on the ladder you need a minimum income of 72k to enter the promised land, and then we can see why the affordable housing mantra is folly at best.

The truth is the Tories are breaking the one unwritten rule for any party seeking to retain power: not to upset their voter bases. Yet that is exactly what they are doing. Dissent is silenced, consultations are formulated and reported in house, with naysayers sidelined.

Instead of challenging the ludicrous housing targets set for them by the Government, councillors comply, choosing instead to take the new homes bonuses and increased council tax revenue as they exonerate themselves of blame, and to hell with the neighbours, doctors surgeries, schools and public services which will become even more overwhelmed but won't cost a penny extra.

The local plan system in this country is nothing but a national disgrace and we will look back in years to come at forests of concrete carbuncles while we tell our kids to imagine what it felt like to breathe in the fresh air and feel the grass between their toes, as they avoid the legions of dumper trucks, breathe in the pollution and wait for months on end to see a doctor for the ailments brought on by the superbuilds.

  • Brett Ellis is a teacher