All parties agree that building many more homes is a priority, but responding to demand in expensive cities must be prioritised
While we await the full manifesto from the Conservatives tomorrow and Liberal Democrats this evening, there have been clear lines on housing. Labour’s manifesto promised to build a million new homes in five years with half built by housing associations and councils, while also pledging to preserve the sanctity of the greenbelt, while the Lib Dems have proposed the creation of a Housing Investment Bank and a £3 billion ‘Rent to own’ programme for young people.
On Sunday the Conservatives announced changes to Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) rules that marks a shift in philosophy from the previous position:
The current CPO system takes longer than in most OECD countries, and is often complicated by challenges for ‘hope value’ from those expecting value increases from a future change in permissions. This change would ensure that those living in the area benefit from development, rather than landowners alone.
It is now no surprise that Theresa May’s Conservatives have announced a policy to give the public sector a greater role in markets, in light of the Energy Price Cap and broader industrial strategy aims. These new powers will enhance councils’ role in local housing markets, where places such as Birmingham and Stoke have already set up municipal housing companies.
There are two main challenges for this policy:
Over decades politicians have offered multiple solutions to the problem of building enough homes where we need them, but very little has had a concrete impact. This policy will help, but as long as politicians refuse to consider using even a tiny fraction of land around our most successful cities to build the homes everyone agrees are needed, and fail to focus attention and resources where the affordability problem is most acute, then it won’t be going away anytime soon.
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