Survey Finds NIMBYs on the Rise in Both U.S. and Britain
Ongoing survey research in the U.S. and United Kingdom by Saint Consulting Group finds that rising opposition to real estate development “will make it tougher — on both sides of the Atlantic — for developers and also politicians who run for election on pro-growth land-use issues,” according to Michael Saint, CEO of the consulting firm.
U.S. builders have an advantage over their U.K. counterparts because only 13% of the 1,000 Americans who were polled oppose new housing, compared to 33% of the same number of Britains. In fact, 75% of the Americans said they would support single-family housing in their communities, the highest amount of support for any kind of development.
One in five home owners in both countries appears willing to fight to protect the character of their communities and the value of their investment in their homes. Fox called this “an eye-opening discovery, even for me.” In the U.K., 19% of those surveyed reported opposing a planning application, compared to 21% in the U.S. survey.
“The development industry clearly has not paid enough heed to finding community support for its proposals,” said Nick Keable, Saint Consulting’s vice president of U.K. operations.
“In the U.K., residential development pressure is intense. Only 12% of Britain has actually ever been developed,” he said. “The rest is either undevelopable or protected. While this proportion gives the U.K. a special character, the dearth exacerbates the situation and creates incredibly high land values. That’s why residential development is such an issue and the government’s theoretically pro-development stance is seriously unpopular.”
Less encouraging news for American home builders, U.S. survey respondents turn out to be more cynical about the process and politics of development, with 70% believing that the relationships between elected officials and developers make the approval process unfair, compared to 50% of those surveyed in Great Britain.
Going into last May 4th’s local elections, 72% of British respondents felt that a candidate’s position on growth and development was “critical” to how they would cast their vote. Facing elections on Nov. 7, 93% of the Americans felt similarly.
“Candidates for office are forewarned,” said Fox, a veteran political campaign advisor. “All land use has become highly politicized and adversarial. And it is going to get worse.”
Types of development opposed by Americans were:
- Waste/landfills, 82%
- Casinos, 80%
- Power plants, 66%
- Quarries, 63%
- Wal-Mart, 63%
- Retail, 62%
- Apartments, 48%
- Offices, 47%
- Supermarkets, 33%
- Single-family housing, 13%
For a previous NBN story on findings from the American survey, click here.