Labour Commits to Building a New Generation of Garden Cities – But Waters Down Lyons Review

Labour Press

Emma Reynolds, Labour’s Shadow Housing Minister, will tomorrow (Tuesday) warn that five more years of the Tories’ failed plan will see the housing crisis grow day after day. She will set out a plan for the next Labour government to recapture the post-war spirit of building new homes.

In the Annual Sir Frederic Osborn Lecture to the Town and Country Planning Association, Emma Reynolds will argue that only Labour has a comprehensive plan to tackle the housing crisis and restore the dream of home ownership for the next generation.

She will say that the Tory approach to housing has been characterised by five years of empty announcements and that the country doesn’t need more piecemeal gimmicks, half-baked schemes and a race to the bottom on standards, but a comprehensive plan to build the homes people need.

She will contrast the Tories’ failed approach with Labour’s better plan for working people, which will get 200,000 homes built a year by 2020.

Labour’s Shadow Housing Minister will point to new figures which show the threat of another five years of David Cameron. On current trends, if the Tory-led Government’s record is repeated until 2020:

·         Home ownership levels will fall to their lowest levels for 40 years with more than two in five people expected to rent.

·         Only one in five people under the age of 35 will own their own home, half of those who did so in 2010.

And she will outline Labour’s plan to tackle the housing crisis 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.

On the Tories’ failing plan Emma Reynolds is expected to say:

“Over the past five years, David Cameron has presided over the lowest levels of house building in peace time since the 1920s.

“For a whole generation of young people and families the aspiration of buying their own home is becoming a distant dream. A record number of young people are still living at home with their parents in their twenties and thirties because they can’t get on the housing ladder.”

On five more years of the Tories and the prospect of a growing housing crisis Emma Reynolds is expected to say:

“After five years of empty announcements and failed initiatives the Tories are offering more of the same. But they can’t even say how their latest pie-in-the-sky scheme will work or how they will pay for the £8.6 billion cost of the supposed 20 per cent discounts that are on offer.

“Five more years of the Tories’ failed plan will see a growing housing gap, falling home ownership and unrealised aspiration for the next generation.”

Emma Reynolds will outline Labour’s better plan. She is expected to say:

“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.

“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.

“While the Tories still believe, despite their failure over the past five years, that the housing crisis will be solved by the market alone, Labour is clear that to tackle the housing crisis there must be a much more active role for national and local government.

“Under Labour’s plan, local government will take a major new role in assembling land, delivering infrastructure and commissioning housing development. But to succeed, it will be a partnership with the private sector, attracting private investment and commissioning private developers to build the homes we need.

“Labour will also increase competition in the building industry, build more affordable homes and unleash a new programme of New Towns and Garden Cities.”

These are the Lyons Review recommendations – from Oct 14- though this is the first comprehensive statement of which of them would become party policy. It would appear to be a watering down of some key recommendations however:

  • Gone is the statutory duty to ensure homes meeting need are built – something even the Treasury are considering.
  • Gone is ‘use it or lose it’ powers
  • Gone is the recommendation that adjoining councils could work together to produce a ‘Strategic Housing Market Plan’ (SHMP), what the ‘right to grow’ morphed into.  So Labour appear to be relaying solely on the weak duty to cooperate.
  • Gone is the commitment to up to 500,000 homes in Garden Cities.
  • Gone is the reform of HA funding streams.
  • Gone is the very vague and undefined Lyons review proposal to ‘redline’ small sites (you already have outline consents)

Most disappointingly their is no political counter to the populist ;starter homes; initiative, a silly proposal that would increase house prices, as we have set out on this blog in detail, or HA right to buy, which either would increase the deficit and lead to the financial collapse of housing associations, but both proposals were populist. Labour appears not to have any populist counter, not even council house construction which because of housing benefit savings can pay for itself. Perhaps Labour are frit because of the Greens total cluster***k on the work they had commissioned on the funding of this.

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