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Labour to tackle NIMBYs as 'mythbuster' launched on garden cities

The shadow communities secretary has said the public could do more to increase the development of homes in their area, as the Town and Country Planning Association launched its “mythbuster” on UK garden cities.

Speaking at the Labour party conference in Manchester, Hilary Benn said people should take responsibility for housing development in their areas.

He said that planning posed conflicting interests for the public, with many recognising the need for more housing but opposing new stock being built near them.

The shadow secretary said his party would give communities more power over the development of housing in their area.

“We will give communities, as Sir Michael Lyons’ report will recommend, the powers they need to tackle land banking, put together the sites, get the design right, put in the infrastructure, and work with small, medium and large builders to build the homes that local people need where local people want,” he said.

Mr Benn added that many communities could do more to identify viable housing in their areas to prevent construction on greenfield sites.

His comments came as the TCPA, in partnership with Crest Nicholson, launched a “mythbuster” on the development of garden cities in the UK, which dismissed the notion that homes should be built on solely green or brownfield land.

TCPA chief executive Kate Henderson said:  “Where we build the homes we need is not a question of using either greenfield or brownfield land, but a matter of choosing the most sustainable locations for new and renewed communities, decisions that should be based on a wide range of considerations.”

Crest Nicholson executive board director Chris Tinker said “well designed” garden cities, with “affordable community-owned management structures” have delivered “enduring value to residents”.

He said: “In our experience the underlying principles and aspirations of grden cities are welcomed by local people who, in the absence of a quality, community-focused framework for development, instinctively fear characterless urban and suburban sprawl.

“The principles are equally applicable to our greenfield and brownfield developments and work at many scales and densities.”

Garden Cities Mythbuster

The document lists a series of “myths”, including:

‘Myth’: We don’t need new garden cities because there is enough brownfield inner-city land available to meet the nation’s housing needs.

‘The Truth’: Given the scale of the housing challenge in Britain today, we need to develop both brownfield and greenfield sites.

To read the full report, click on the document attached (right).

On Saturday, Labour leader Ed Miliband launched plans for new council-led corporations to boost housebuilding to 200,000 homes a year by 2020.

New Homes Corporations would be accountable to their communities and would work closely with private sector partners and housing associations, as well as commissioning developers including SMEs to build out sites “at pace”.

Public sector housing will form a “substantial” part, but still less than half, of their output.

The Labour party said the policy tackled three major constraints on housebuilding:

  • Too often land is held back because owners and developers do not have certainty that it will be built out
  • Too often development stalls because of infrastructure uncertainty
  • Not enough competition in housebuilding

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