At last there is a political consensus that there is a massive housing shortage in this country. Three-quarters of the British public now agree. Only a minority of MPs believe that the solution is out of the Government’s hands – credible solutions to the shortage may well win votes. This is the first in a series of posts that looks at the housing policy platforms of each main party, starting with Labour.
The NPPG has been a convenient tool to grab headlines for the Government. The general thrust of most recent changes has been that so-called “red-tape” is being cut to facilitate housing delivery. A couple of weeks ago, as some Councils grappled with how to calculate Vacant Building Credit and lamented the loss of affordable housing contributions, we learned more about the Labour proposals to deliver housing floated in the Lyons Review.
Labour want to recapture the post-war spirit for building new homes, matching that renewed ambition with a drive to build high quality homes and great places for new communities. This has been a consistent message from the Shadow Housing Minister since she stepped into her role. Easy to say, more difficult to deliver. NIMBYs have not disappeared. Nevertheless Labour propose the construction of 200,000 new homes each year by 2020. They propose doing this by:
Making tackling the housing crisis a national priority; Giving local communities stronger powers to build the homes needed in the places people want to live; Giving first time buyers priority access rights in new Housing Growth Areas; Creating a major new role for local government in commissioning and delivering housing developments; Building more affordable homes; Increasing competition in the housing market and boosting small builders; and Building a new generation of New Towns and Garden Cities.
Larger than local – mind the gap
No return to regional planning is proposed. In fact Labour see an increasing role for local government in assembling land, delivering infrastructure and commissioning housing development, with powers to prevent land banking. Labour propose addressing the fall in housing delivery by small and medium size builders by providing access to low cost loans. Delivery of designated housing growth areas “at pace” and a new generation of new towns and garden cities are seen as the proposals most likely to deliver the significant housing numbers required. Much of this builds on the Lyons Review, the most comprehensive recent review of the housing crisis and how to solve it.
Something still to give
Unfortunately, the announcements to date do not fully embrace all of the Lyons recommendations and it remains to be seen whether, for example, the measures on CPO and land value will be taken forward. We will find out in May if Labour will get the opportunity to implement their plans.