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Labour promises powers for communities to tackle housing crisis

Words: Laura Edgar
Lucy Powell / UK Parliament

Labour has promised it would give local authorities and communities powers to develop land for more affordable housing. 

The party would also “revitalise” town centres and high streets by reforming “out-of-date” land purchasing powers.

Other pledges made ahead of the Labour Party Conference, which began on Saturday (25 September), include:

  • Closing loopholes developers “exploit” to avoid building more affordable housing.
  • Giving first-time buyers “dibs” on new developments.
  • Ending the practice of foreign buyers purchasing “swathes” of new housing developments off-plan.
  • Setting out an ambition to re-establish the link between genuinely affordable housing and average earnings, bringing affordable rents and the dream of home ownership closer for those locked out of the system today.

Speaking at the conference on 26 September, shadow housing secretary Lucy Powell highlighted the importance of housing as the “bedrock to a successful, happy life”.

She said: “Labour will give local authorities new powers to buy and develop land for housing, and revitalise town centres, by reforming arcane compensation rules.

“This could generate up to 100,000 new homes a year, much of which would be social and affordable.

“The current definition of affordable is anything but, linked to overheated market rates.  We will set a new definition linked to local wages.

“We will close loopholes that let developers wriggle out of commitments.

“We will give first-time buyers first dibs on new developments, and put an end to the outrageous practice of foreign hedge funds purchasing swathes of new homes, off-plan.

“These reforms are a first step to put housing at the heart of the battle for Downing Street.”

Image credit | UK Parliament, licensed under CC BY 3.0