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Housing supply at the centre of the key election manifestos

by DevAssist Team on April 16, 2015 No comments

The two biggest UK political parties published their 2015 Election manifestos this week with housing supply pledges centre-stage from both the Conservatives and Labour.

The Conservatives formally committed to 200,000 new starter homes built on brownfield sites by 2020 as well as 275,000 additional affordable homes by the same date.

Labour promised that at least 200,000 new homes a year are built by 2020 and committed to a new generation of garden cities.

The Conservatives pledged support for “locally-led garden cities and towns in places where communities want them, such as Ebbsfleet and Bicester. It would also extend right to buy provisions to Housing Association dwellings.

The manifesto states: “We will fund the replacement of properties sold under the extended Right to Buy by requiring local authorities to manage their housing assets more efficiently, with the most expensive properties sold off and replaced as they fall vacant. We will also create a Brownfield Fund to unlock homes on brownfield land for additional housing.

Its manifesto added: “When new homes are granted planning permission, we will make sure local communities know up-front that necessary infrastructure such as schools and roads will be provided. We will ensure that brownfield land is used as much as possible for new development.

“We will require local authorities to have a register of what is available, and ensure that 90 per cent brownfield sites have planning permission for housing by 2020.”

Much of Conservative manifesto confirmed promises made recently by the Coalition on new road spending, flood protection, new railways particularly in the north of England as part of the Northern Powerhouse initiative and a London Land Commission. Crossrail 2 was formally backed.

Labour is promising to give local communities “more power to shape their high streets, and so preserve their local identities”. Communities will be able to review betting shop licenses in their area and reduce the number of fixed-odds betting terminals in existing betting shops – or ban them entirely – in response to local concerns.

Labour has also promised an English Devolution Act, handing £30bn of resources and powers English city and county regions and a new Infrastructure Commission to prioritise investment in flood prevention. It has confirmed it backs a “value for money” HS2.

The Conservatives will strengthen the Community Right to Bid regime and promised over the next five years “to put in place stronger protections for our natural landscapes, establish a new Blue Belt to safeguard precious marine habitats, and launch a programme of pocket parks in towns and cities”.

It also confirmed its stance on onshore wind farms which will mean an end to the subsidy regime and a legal change “so that local people have the final say on wind farm applications”.

Will commitments be really met?

The dash to pledge housing supply expansion comes with it the challenge of loosening planning controls at the local level. There are electioneering accusations that Tory-run councils are sitting on controversial decisions ahead of polling day so as to limit the damage in the more marginal constituencies.

Time will tell after the dust has settled whether there really will be a proven commitment to move schemes forward in designated zones. Then we may have the return of the battle between housing need and community concern over change in their local area.

DevAssist TeamHousing supply at the centre of the key election manifestos

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