An Island of Opposition

January 1, 2007 · by P. Michael Saint

The United States and United Kingdom may be two nations united by a common language, but when it comes to attitudes toward real estate development, their citizens are clearly an ocean apart.

The United States and United Kingdom may be two nations united by a common language, but when it comes to attitudes toward real estate development, their citizens are clearly an ocean apart.

The United States and United Kingdom may be two nations united by a common language, but when it comes to attitudes toward real estate development, their citizens are clearly an ocean apart.

Eighty-four percent of British residents are against any new development in their communities, according to our Saint Index survey of 1,000 UK adults, conducted in April 2006. While still a majority, a smaller percentage of U.S. residents – just 73 percent – surveyed in the same year opposed new developments in their home towns.

UK residents oppose quarry, casino, office and large shopping center development in even greater numbers than Americans with casinos and landfills being the most reviled new development in the UK – 85 percent of adults were opposed to these developments in their community.

The US and UK differ most on housing. The Brits are more likely to oppose new private sector housing (52 percent opposed for flats and 33 percent opposed for houses) than Americans. Eighty-four percent of Americans say they would support new single-family housing in their communities, and 57 percent support apartment/condominium development.

Grocery development is another major US/UK difference. Supermarkets – the second most acceptable land use in the US (70 percent support) – are opposed in the UK by 57 percent of residents.

The British are less cynical about the development process, however. While 75 percent of Americans believe the relationships between elected officials and developers make the approval process unfair, only 50 percent of those surveyed in the UK feel that way.

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