Was the House Builders Federation asked to help CALA Homes' PR
by calling for the "kill off" of NIMBYs in Tunbridge Wells ?

20.08.2004 - We followed with great interest the report of the Editor of the Tunbridge Wells Community Bulletin CB9.

Dodgy Public Relations by the House Builders

The business pages of the Courier have a nice bit of placed propaganda from the Housebuilders' Federation attacking people like us, using the old trick of a YouGov. commissioned poll - polling for publicity is a trick we've used in our professional lives and it never fails! But a poll is not a considered view, only an opinion when you've been put on the spot.

The poll tells us what we know already - the public generally want more house building (but not in their street) - so the House Builders Federation neatly decides to use this "factoid" to attack anyone who resents their profiteering as NIMBYs.

They have also rolled up Kate Barker (Press reports of whose review of house-building was supplied to Bulletin subscribers some time ago) to endorse their "more houses" propaganda. You can smell the profits to be had oozing from the story.

The HBF attacks "vocal, well organised NIMBYs" [er ... and the HBF is not well organised with substantial funds beyond any local community's wildest dreams?] and then gives us the usual stakeholder guff to mollify us.

In fact, whoever is doing their PR is missing the point and alienating potential supporters: the majority of us want more decent housing but just want to be consulted on where new homes will go and be assured that the environmental infrastructure is enhanced. And we certainly don't mind profit - only profiteering.

If these homes can be engineered to enhance the community (and there is no reason why they cannot), the community can be persuaded to accept them - but, of course, a demand for community environmental improvements might cut into the profits of those house builders who still want higher income des.res. in our green fields and expensive flat conversions in our towns.

Comment 22 August 2004

Was the House Builders Federation asked to help CALA Homes' PR
by calling for the "kill off" of NIMBYs in Tunbridge Wells ?

The Editor of the Community Bulletin is right in calling the Courier's slipped-in PR by the House Builders Federation "dodgy". In fact the article is the House Builders Federation's "Hurrah" scream of approval for the Baker Review published in March 2004.


Archie Norman slammed the report as flawed in concept and in its analysis.
"It suggests we can build our way out of house price inflation, even though studies show there is already a growing surplus of houses in the UK." He said in the Courier 14th of May 2004: "Census data, which is widely considered to be the best measure, reveals there were almost one million properties standing empty in 2001".

CPRE (Campaign to Protect Rural England) confirms this:
"The statistics show that in every English region, the South East included, there are more homes than households. This surplus grew between the 1991 Census and that of 2001. These are facts, facts which were used in Kate Barker's Interim Report last December [2003] (but which she chose to overlook in her final report) and in the influential briefing CPRE commissioned recently from Europe Economics.
And there are more than 700,000 empty homes in England, a large chunk of them empty for the long term.
So there's no overall housing shortage. The bulk of the population are better housed than they ever have been. What is really going on?"


House Builders Federation's [HBF] Rob Asmead, chief executive crows:
"This poll is extremely revealing about public attitudes towards house-building. It helps to redefine the terms of debate. The public clearly recognises that we face a serious housing problem. More importantly, people want to address it - even when this means building new homes in their own area. All too often the debate about house building is dominated by a group of vocal, well-organised NIMBYs. This poll shows how unrepresentative they can be. We need to move away from whether Britain needs more homes to how we provide them - in a rational, responsible and sustainable way that takes on board the concerns increased house building inevitably raises."

All this can easily be countered by The Urban White Paper, which was commissioned by the same Deputy Prime Minister in 2000:
"People have a right to determine their future and be involved in deciding how their town or city develops. A clear message from the regeneration initiatives of the last 30 years is that real sustainable change will not be achieved unless local people are in the driving seat. It is not enough to consult people about decisions that will impact on their lives: they must be fully engaged in the process from the start; and everybody must be included" - Urban White Paper - 16.11.2000

Now what has this article to do with the Courier?
Why is this campaign against NIMBYs running in Tunbridge Wells at this particular time?

The Telephone House Neighbours came to some conclusions:

  1. Bill Mackie is cited to be the Head of Real Estate at Cripps Harries Hall solicitors TW and Chairman of the HBF conference.
  2. Geoff Ball is the Executive Chairman of CALA Group Ltd. He has recently completed a two-year term as President of the House Builders Federation [HBF] in England and Wales.
    - and there is another one from CALA
  3. Gary Hardy is the Managing Director of CALA Homes (Yorkshire) Ltd. He is a former Chairman of the House Builders Federation Yorkshire region.

CALA Homes is the developer of Telephone House site, profiteering in the opinion of Telephone House Neighbours Association at the cost of the amenity not only of the neighbours but all Tunbridge Wells citizens.

It has to be made very clear that THNA supported development of the site within planning guidelines (30 to 50 dwellings per hectare) but did not want excessive town cramming (140 per hectare as implementing). NIMBYism was never the point. The site is the most densely built in Tunbridge wells with no amenities on site.

CALA Homes are happily ignoring a Scheme of Works agreed with TWBC. Against all rules they started working this Sunday from early morning on ! The squeaking, sizzling noise of their crane can be heard up to the Common.

For the record:
As of June 2004 the chairman of the House Builders Federation is Stewart Baseley
Read about him and see the nice picture :) of the man himself on:

"In a democratic society, like developers, NIMBYs have a right to their own opinions."

CALA Homes - builders from hell? Builders from hell ? - Living with a CALA Homes Development in Tunbridge Wells

Whom are we dealing with? - The developers of Telephone House, Tunbridge Wells

The Telephone House Neighbours Association informs on CALA Homes (South) Development :
CALA Group acquired the controversial planning permission for the high density development of Telephone House site, Church Road / York Road, Tunbridge Wells, TN1, Kent.