Ed Miliband today warns that London’s position as a global business capital is in danger unless hundreds of thousands of new homes are built.
Writing in tonight’s Standard, the Labour leader says affordable flats and houses are vital to ensure firms have the young professionals and skilled workers they need to expand.
He committed Labour to develop a “next generation of new towns” similar to Milton Keynes where aspirational Britons can raise families while working in the booming South-East. He also sets out plans to speed up housebuilding in London’s 32 boroughs, including action against property firms sitting on prime land and to reduce the number of empty flats owned by absentee foreign investors.
“There is a chronic shortage of affordable homes in Britain, and nowhere is this clearer than in London,” writes Mr Miliband. He highlights the ballooning cost of living for dashing the dream of home ownership for many young Londoners. “Their hopes are fading as fast as the prices rise beyond their reach.”
He says: “And it is also causing deep difficulty for employers, both in the public and private sector. Indeed, the CBI recently highlighted the cost and lack of suitable housing for skilled employees as the biggest threat to London’s position as one of the world’s greatest cities for business.”
Among Mr Miliband’s plans, set out in his article, are:
Creating new towns in “sustainable locations” resilient to flooding and the impact of climate change, similar to the Fifties and Sixties development of Stevenage and Milton Keynes. Party sources suggest up to four would be developed, including at least two to take the heat off London.
Councils could be barred from blocking housing developments pushed by neighbouring councils — a highly controversial move where interests conflict over issues such as traffic problems. Mr Miliband said “home-blocking local authorities” had caused years of frustration.
Developers will be stopped from advertising new flats overseas before Londoners are given a chance to buy or rent the new homes.