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Corbyn housing policy focuses on affordability

Words: Laura Edgar

New Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has spelt out his commitment to large scale council house building and a National Investment Bank to support new housing development.

The MP for Islington North would also like to see limits on rent rises and measures to make home ownership more affordable for a larger number of people.

In a housing policy document released during his election campaign, Corbyn says: "for too many people their housing is not a source of security, but a cause for anxiety”.

Corbyn covers 13 sections in the document, including councils and public investment, the private rented sector and land banking.

Citing the Town and Country Planning Association’s New estimates of housing demand and need in England, 2011 to 2031, Corbyn says the country should be building in excess of 240,000 homes a year, with at least half being council homes. In London, he states, 60,000 homes need to be built.

The document says a National Investment Bank could support new housing projects with low interest rates, both by councils and developers, as long as “tough new conditions were met on the proportion of genuinely affordable housing built”.

There must also be, says Corbyn, a return to regional home building targets to ensure that housing is built in every area.

The document recommends that national minimum standards or longer tenancies and limits on rent rises should be met. Additionally, it states: “Regulation of private rents should be linked to what determines whether something is affordable.”

Corbyn states in the housing document that local authorities in high housing stress areas should be given the power to suspend right to buy in order to “protect depleting social housing assets". It is “essential” that “genuine replacements” are built.

Affordable housing, adds the document, should no longer mean “near-market levels”, while local authorities could be given the option of “levying higher council tax rates or a new tax on properties left empty”.

A Land Value Tax should be considered for undeveloped land that has planning permission while ‘use it or lose it’ measures on other brownfield sites should be introduced to “act as an disincentive to land banking and to raise public funds for house building”.

Corbyn doesn’t want towns sprawling outwards and reliance on cars to grow, something he states in the document as being prevented to an extent by the green belt. Widespread relaxation of planning laws would also risk “inflating the land values of green belt sites”.

Additionally, the document says permitted development is “problematic” and does not take into consideration wider facilities and infrastructure.

Corbyn also talks about regional economic strategies, social security and retrofitting and raising environmental standards in housing. Read the full housing policy document here (PDF).

Shadow cabinet named

These are the key office-holders in Jeremy Corbyn's newly announced shadow cabinet:

• Shadow communities secretary: Jon Trickett

• Shadow minister for housing and planning: John Healey

• Shadow transport secretary: Lilian Greenwood

• Shadow energy secretary: Lisa Nandy