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Miliband unveils ambitious housing plan to ‘get Britain building again’

Miliband unveils ambitious housing plan to ‘get Britain building again’

🕔16.Oct 2014

Councils would be ordered to designate housing growth areas and given powers to assemble land and “give certainty that building will take place” under plans announced today by the Labour Party, says Paul Dale. 

Ed Miliband said a Labour government would make it mandatory for local authorities to produce a local plan to meet the housing needs of the community.

If councils fail to allocate sufficient land or present a plan, the Planning Inspectorate will have powers to step-in to ensure the housing need is not ignored, he added.

The proposals will help Labour deliver its commitment to build 200,000 new homes a year by 2020 and help to solve Britain’s housing shortage crisis, Mr Miliband said.

The Labour leader confirmed that councils would be able to give priority to first time buyers.

Local authorities will be given the power to reserve a proportion of homes built in housing growth areas for first-time buyers from the area for a period of two months.

In addition, councils will be able to restrict the sale of homes in these areas so they cannot be sold for buy-to-let or buy-to-leave empty properties.

The proposals are based on recommendations in the Lyons Report into housing need, by the former chief executive of Birmingham City Council Sir Michael Lyons.

Speaking in Milton Keynes, Mr Miliband said he wanted to double the number of first-time buyers over the next decade.

The Lyons Report highlights a land market that is not working, insufficient land coming forward, a decline in house building capacity and communities feeling that they have no influence where new homes will go.

Birmingham city council has estimated that more than 100,000 new homes will have to be built in and around Birmingham by 2031 to meet demand. Proposals to build up to 6,000 homes in the Sutton Coldfield green belt will be the subject of bitter debate at an inquiry into the Birmingham Development Plan which begins next week.

Mr Miliband highlighted three key policies which he said would unlock the supply of new homes and guarantee that communities get proper benefit from development in their area.

  • Local communities have the power to build the homes needed in the places people want to live
  • Councils produce a plan for home building in their area and allocate sufficient land for development to meet the needs of people in the area
  • First time buyers from the area can get priority access rights when these new homes go on sale.

Mr Miliband said: “There has been a systematic failure to build the homes our country needs. Too much development land is held as a speculative investment when local people need homes.

“Too often the trickle of new developments that get completed are snapped up before people from the area can benefit, undermining support for much needed further development. And, for too many young families, the dream of home ownership is fading fast.

“Only Labour has a plan to build the homes that our country, our local communities and our families need. The next Labour government will make housing a bigger priority within the existing capital settlement for the next Parliament.

“We will get Britain building again by insisting local authorities have a plan to meet the need for housing in their area – and that the big developers play their part rather than hold land back.

“But we will also make sure that communities get the benefit from new home development by guaranteeing that where communities take the lead in bringing forward additional developments, a significant proportion of homes on those sites cannot be bought by anyone before first-time buyers from the area have been given the chance.

“This is not only a fairer system, it is also one which will encourage local communities and local authorities to support the development that our country so desperately needs.”

Sir Michael Lyons said: “We face the biggest housing crisis in a generation. We simply have to do better as a nation, not only because our children and grandchildren need the homes we should be providing now, but because greater house building will make a direct contribution to national economic growth.

“My report sets out a comprehensive plan to tackle the key problems that underpin our failure to build enough homes. This will require strong leadership from central government alongside the delegation of powers and responsibility so that every community provides the homes they need.

“The recommendations will make more land available for new homes; unlock investment in infrastructure; and ensure that new homes are built when and where they are needed in attractive, thriving places. That will involve a more active role for local government in assembling land and in risk sharing partnerships with developers, landowners.

“We will need the industry to do more, get smaller house builders back into business, tap potential in the construction industry, attract new enterprise and unlock potential for Housing Associations to do more. This will reverse the shrinking capacity in a key UK industry and create 230,000 new jobs whilst adding 1.2 per cent to GDP.”

Hilary Benn, Shadow Communities and Local Government Secretary, said: “Everyone knows that we have a housing crisis, and unless we do something about it we will be betraying our children. But communities don’t feel that the current system works for them. Too often, developers seem to be in control rather than local people.

“So we are making you an offer: you take on responsibility for providing homes for the next generation and in return we will help you ensure that the right kind of homes get built in the places you want.”

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