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Labour commits to building 200,000 homes a year

Words: Laura Edgar

Labour leader Ed Miliband has unveiled plans in the Lyons Report to give priority to first-time buyers and to build where families want to live.

The report by Sir Michael Lyons, launched in Milton Keynes yesterday (16 October), considers policy in England and promises to unlock 200,000 new homes a year by 2020. The number of first-time buyers will be doubled over the next 10 years while investment in associated infrastructure is crucial. The report also recognises that the 2015 government needs to commit to “genuine zero-carbon standard” for new homes, something that is supported by the UK Green Building Council.

The Home Builders Federation (HBF) has welcomed Labour’s commitment to deliver 200,000 homes a year, and agrees that finding ways to bring forward more land for development is key.

Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of HBF, said: “Whilst we have seen a big increase in house building activity in recent months, we are still not delivering enough homes to meet the country’s needs. Policies that would result in more land coming forward for development more quickly and further assist first-time buyers would clearly provide a boost to housing supply. We look forward to working with the Labour Party to develop their policies as we move towards the general election.”

The report says that councils would be able to reserve a proportion of new homes in a Housing Growth Area for a two-month period as well as restrict sales to buy-to-let investors.

Miliband said: “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.”

But Barton Willmore believes that there are still major obstacles to overcome in the delivery of houses. Bhavash Vashi, director at the consultancy, who welcomes Labour’s ambition to build 200,000 houses a year, said two issues still need confronting, particularly the lack of a public sector house building programme.

“As Ted Ayres of Bellway Homes said this week, it is a huge ask of the private sector to reach these numbers at a time when the public sector built just 27,500 homes last year – a quarter of the long-term average.”

The second big problem is the lack of delivery of significant new infrastructure, something that can be caught for up to 10 years in planning inquiries.

“We need a much shorter timeframe, less than 12 months, to consider Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects.  All parties must, of course, be mindful of their commitment to localism and the desire for local decision-making, but without political will and local leaders prepared to show courage to drive forward development we will never be in a position to solve the housing crisis,” said Vashi.

Download the Lyons Housing Review (pdf)