The development of the Crossrail project and its subsequent potential effects on property prices along the route is no new revelation to say the least. As the London market continues to become increasingly un-affordable, with an average house exceeding £500k, many are looking outward of the M25 to more affordable commuter towns.
Any improvement in transportation links to the capital are only going to drive up demand for housing in the aforementioned locations. In turn it is inevitable that over time it will do the same to house prices, an inadvertent consequence for those home-owners in question.
However London Assembly and Green Party member, Darren Johnson, has suggested that this benefit should in fact be grounds to penalise home-owners near future Crossrail stations. Speaking on the matter Johnson said “This huge wealth windfall may sound great for anyone who owns property and land near a Crossrail station, but it shows the project will drive up housing costs in relatively affordable parts of London without further action. We could dampen the rise in house prices and help fund the project by taxing some of that windfall, using a land value tax.”
The suggestion that those in Crossrail areas should pay additional tax to aid its development, regardless of whether they will use the service or not, will no doubt raise a few eyebrows. When it comes to contributing to the government coffers, such preposterous grounds to do so are unlikely to go down well with the public.
The regressive nature of such comments are most certainly a step in the wrong direction. If they were to become a reality, it could open up a Pandora’s Box of potential tax introductions based on equally ludicrous grounds. Should we impose a sea side tax for all of those unlucky enough to reside within a three mile radius of the coast? Should those living on the boundaries of local parks have to pay for the upkeep of sports teams they have no involvement in? Why not take it a step further and have those in town centres up early on a Sunday morning, litter pickers in hand, collecting the rubbish left behind from the weekend nightlife?
Imposing such measures will cause a grievance to those effected when they have a choice. We can choose to buy a cheaper property to avoid paying a larger Stamp Duty Tax, or buying a car with a smaller or more economical engine. When there is no choice and the public are penalised purely because of their personal circumstance, it goes against the grounds on which we built our democratic nation. Imagine committing to having a child, only to find out you are having twins and for the government to turn around and whack you with an additional tax charge. Or asking you to pay more tax 15 years down the line, because your child is a particularly talented footballer on the verge of signing for United.
Founder and CEO of eMoov.co.uk commented “Karl Marx once famously said something along the lines that ‘All property is theft’. It seems that Darren Johnson subscribes to this view. But the fact that I, like millions of home-owners, have accidentally purchased a family home where there may be an unprovable, disputable uplift in values because of an imposed new rail link, does not mean that I should have to donate some of my home’s equity to the Government.”