Labour pledges to double rate of house building

Aaron Morby 10 years ago
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Ed Milibrand promised to tackle home blocker councils and land hoarding developers head-on today in a drive to double house building rates.

The Labour leader said councils would be allowed to expand beyond their current boundaries to provide new housing, if Labour are elected in 2015.

He also confirmed councils would get fresh powers to seize land from hoarding developers under Labour’s ‘use it or lose it’ policy, first outlined in the Party Conference this year.

In a speech timed to coincide with the launch of a Labour review of housing policy by Sir Michael Lyons, he pledged to build 200,000 homes a year by the end of the next parliament.

Miliband accused the government of failing to do enough to improve the supply of new housing while driving up demand with Help to Buy.

Speaking in Stevenage, he said the Labour-controlled authority was being prevented from realising ambitious house building plans because of the objections of neighbouring North Hertfordshire Council.

He said a key policy of a new Labour Government would be for councils to be granted ‘a right to grow’.

This would give the national planning inspectorate power to give priority to local authorities that want to expand if they are being blocked by neighbouring councils refusing to release land.

Stevenage, Oxford, Luton and York have signed up to become the first “right to grow” local authorities, with an immediate potential to build 40,000 new homes.

“Of course it is right that local communities have a say about where housing goes. But councils cannot be allowed to frustrate continually the efforts of others councils to get homes built,” said Miliband.

“So the next Labour government will unblock this planning process and unlock the potential to build tens of thousands of new homes where they are needed,” he pledged.

Miliband also rounded on the main volume house builders.

“Profits for our four biggest housing developers are going through the roof.

“They have soared 557% since this Government took office – even though homes have been built at their slowest rate witnessed in peacetime for almost a century.

“But there are large amounts of land – enough to build more than a million homes – earmarked for houses, which have not been built.
Developers need a bank of land with which to work. But sometimes they, and other landowners, are hoarding it.”

“The next Labour government will give councils powers to charge fees or, if necessary, purchase such land, so that developers have an incentive to do what they went into business to do, “ he said.

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