He ends by making a point that I'm highly sympathetic to:
The planning laws in their present rigid state give rise to the only serious corruption in British politics: they enable landowners to capture enormous unearned profits; even in a time of prosperity such as we have just enjoyed, they cause crippling housing shortages. Above all, in an age when thousands of acres are no longer needed for agriculture, they prevent ordinary people from living where they would most like to live (and from fostering biodiversity in their back gardens). As the Treasury report on land supply pointed out in 2003, current policy is bringing about “an ever widening economic and social divide”.
Rory Stewart in his article in the Sunday Times, where he recounts a walk he made across the Penrith and Borders constituency of which he is the Tory PPC, highlights one local consequence of the peculiar disregard shown in present-day politics for this most fundamental of social problems:
I’ve found out that the government has spent three times as much on upgrading a mile-long footpath as on the entire affordable housing for the district.
What very peculiar priorities for a purportedly Labour Government! But then its capitulation to those who think tidy footpaths (presumably now ticking various boxes concerned with safety and accessibility) are a higher priority than having sufficient roofs to put over their erstwhile supporters' heads is evidenced all around us.
But rather than extending suburbia, which seems to be what Mount is suggesting, my suggestion (as outlined here) would be to add, say, a dozen or two dozen houses to every sizable village in the country. Any Government implementing such a policy might expect opposition from nimbies. But I really do think an injection of life - young couples and families - into a village should be good for everyone. For a start it would help keep pubs, shops and schools open. In any event, such rejectionists shouldn't assume they own their village. It existed long before they did and if it is to have a real life after them then it needs to change and adapt.
Funnily enough both Ferdinand Mount and Rory Stewart are Old Etonians. Truly are we strangers in a strange land: OE's pushing suburbia and social housing over the Labour Party's preference for upgraded footpaths in picturesque places. O tempora, o mores! as these two public school classicists might remark.