Politicians outline plans to tackle housing crisis
Housing minister Brandon Lewis has told local authorities that they must look at land previously considered “unviable” for housing as sites for new starter homes.
The decision comes after Prime Minister David Cameron promised that 200,000 homes will be made available to first-time buyers in England by 2020 if the Tories win the general election.
The plan matches the number of new homes the Labour Party has said it will build if Ed Miliband’s party wins the next general election and is to double the pledge made by the coalition government to build 100,000 cut-price homes for people aged under 40.
But a recent survey by the National Association of Estate Agents shows that many of its members think that government plans to meet demand won’t go far enough. Government figures suggest that there will be 232,000 more households per year in the UK up to 2033, but only 137,960 homes were completed in 2013.
The coalition government is keen to exhaust all brownfield options as the protection of the greenbelt is a key policy. The new national policy aims to encourage collaboration between local planning authorities, landowners and developers to get a supply of sites suitable for housing and to create top-quality well-designed starter homes on commercial and industrial land that’s under-used.
Lewis, who was the keynote speaker at the NAEA conference last month, said that when applications for starter homes on brownfield sites come forward, they should be approved unless there are overriding conflicts with the National Planning Policy Framework.
New-build starter homes will be offered for sale at a minimum of 20% below open market price to first-time buyers aged under 40. The housing minister also said that planning obligations should prevent the resale and letting of the properties at open market value for five years.
But his plan has been dismissed by the Labour Party, which says its strategy to tackle Britain’s housing crisis will involve direct intervention in the market to get more new homes built.
Shadow housing minister Emma Reynolds told the Town and Country Planning Association that her party would create Housing Growth Zones designed to build-out designated areas “at pace”, provide low-cost loans for small-sized builders and support a new generation of garden cities.
Addressing the TCPA’s annual Sir Frederic Osborn Lecture on 10 March, Reynolds accused the PM of presiding over the lowest levels of housebuilding since the 1920s, prompting a record number of people in their 20s and 30s to remain living with their parents.
“The next Labour government will recapture the post-war spirit for building new homes and match that renewed ambition with a drive to build high quality homes and great places for new communities,” she said.
“Labour has developed the first comprehensive plan for a generation to tackle the housing crisis. A Labour government will get at least 200,000 homes built a year by 2020 but we won’t stop there.”