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Lib Dems make pledges on affordable housing and planning improvements

Words: Laura Edgar

The Liberal Democrat Party has committed to creating affordable homes for all and improving the planning system.

Featuring under ‘promises of more’, the Liberal Democrats are pledged to building 300,000 homes a year, including at least 10 garden cities in areas where there is local support for them. Rural local authorities would be encouraged to follow these principles on a smaller scale.

The manifesto Stronger Economy. Fairer Society. Opportunity for Everyone also includes details on their Rent to Own and Help to Rent schemes.

Local authorities would be given new powers to ensure that development happens on any unused site the public sector has in interest in; a review would take place of Compulsory Purchase legislation to facilitate site assembly and techniques would be tested for capturing the increase in land values from granting planning permission.

The Liberal Democrat manifesto states the party would “put local authorities in the driving seat for plan-led development by requiring them to make a plan for 15 years of housing need”. They would have to work with neighbouring authorities where necessary to identify sites

The party vows to update planning law to include the idea of “landscape scale planning” to make sure development promotes walking, cycling, car sharing and public transport, while a Community Right of Appeal would be created for cases where planning decisions go against the local plan.

The Liberal Democrats say they would prioritise building on brownfield sites and bring an end to automatic permitted development rights that allow for office to residential conversion.

The manifesto sets out Home Rule for Scotland by implementing the Smith Commission proposals in full during the first session of the next Parliament.

Additionally, the party is committed to endorsing the St David’s Day announcements while also implementing in full the devolving of powers including energy and ports. Remaining Silk Part 1 proposals for financial powers will be transferred to Wales, while part 2 will also be implemented, including the transferring of transport powers.

The manifesto sets out a commitment for the devolution of Corporation Tax by 2017 and the party will review further devolution of fiscal powers.

The manifesto states: “Liberal Democrats believe an English-only stage in legislation affecting England should be considered, so English MPs can have a separate say on laws that only affect England,” which would be done on a proportional basis.

The manifesto also contains a section on the environment. Five green laws would be established under a Liberal Democrat government, including a green transport act and a zero-carbon Britain act.

The Green Party has pledged to bring empty homes back into use; the Conservatives will continue to protect the green belt while Labour has promised an infrastructure commission.

To read the RTPI's breakdown of the Liberal Democrat manifesto, visit the website.