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Ed Miliband adopts Lyons Review policies to boost housebuilding

Labour leader Ed Miliband has endorsed plans set out by the Lyons Housing Review to increase housebuilding to 200,000 new units a year by 2020.

A Labour government would adopt new policies giving the planning inspectorate powers to step in where local authorities are not meeting their housing needs, and designating ‘Housing Growth Areas’ with land assembly powers.

It would also introduce measures to increase capacity and drive competition in the housebuilding industry, and underwrite loans to small housebuilders to help them deliver new homes.

Sir Michael Lyons was asked by Mr Miliband in September 2013 to carry out an independent review of housing policy and draw up a roadmap of the changes needed to deliver 200,000 new homes a year.

The review found there was insufficient land coming forward, a decline in housebuilding capacity and communities feeling they have no influence over where new homes are built.

Labour policies to increase housebuilding

  • Local authorities would be able to designate new Housing Growth Areas with powers to assemble land and give certainty that building will take place. They will also be responsible for ensuring investment will be made in schools, roads, green spaces and GP surgeries.
  • It would be mandatory for local authorities to have a Local Plan to meet the housing needs of the local community. Where they do not allocate sufficient land or come forward with a plan, the planning inspectorate would have powers to step in.
  • Local authorities would have powers to reserve a proportion of new homes built in ‘Housing Growth Areas’ for first-time buyers from the area and restrict the sale of buy-to-let or buy-to-leave properties.


Other policies would include measures to increase capacity and drive competition in the sector, a Help to Build scheme to support small builders and fast-track planning on small sites.

Labour would also introduce powers for groups of local authorities to form Olympic-style New Homes Corporations to build out designated land at pace.

Sir Michael said his recommendations would “require strong leadership from central government alongside the delegation of powers and responsibility so that every community provides the homes they need”.

He said: “The recommendations will make more land available for new homes, unlock investment in infrastructure and ensure new homes are built when and where they are needed in attractive, thriving places.

“That will involve a more active role for local government in assembling land and in risk-sharing partnerships with developers and landowners.”

He added: “We will need the industry to do more, get smaller housebuilders back into business, tap potential in the construction industry, attract new enterprise and unlock potential for housing associations to do more.

“This will reverse the shrinking capacity in a key UK industry and create 230,000 new jobs while adding 1.2 per cent to GDP.”

Reaction

National Housing Federation chief executive David Orr:

“I welcome the ideas that would see us build 200,000 new homes by 2020 and the ambition to go beyond this to meet demand.

“We’re pleased the ideas we’ve put forward to all the parties ahead of the election have been listened to, such as access and control over how land is used.

“We are calling on the next government to commit to end the housing crisis within a generation and to publish a long-term plan within a year of taking office detailing how they will do this. The ideas detailed in the Lyons Review would take us a step closer to this.”

British Property Federation chief executive Liz Peace:

“The sensible review is extremely comprehensive and pinpoints exactly where problems in the planning system are and comes up with thoughtful solutions.

“While some proposals, for example those surrounding ‘use it or lose it’, may be difficult to implement, on the whole the review shows a clear understanding of the major problems of the planning system, and how these impact on development in the UK. 

“It would be fantastic to see other political parties commit to such a thorough and all-encompassing review like this one.’’

Federation of Master Builders chief executive Brian Berry:

“This is the most comprehensive review of housing delivery we have seen in recent years. Given the extent of the housing shortage we face, the target of 200,000 new homes per year is ambitious, but it is a necessary ambition.

“To achieve this aim we will need to significantly boost the capacity of the house building industry and Sir Michael Lyons has rightly identified the SME house building sector as a crucial part of the housing sector’s capacity.

“It is very pleasing to see that Lyons has recognised the barriers that small house builders face, which prevent them from building the homes we need, such as access to finance and a shortage of small sites, and has put forward a package of measures to address them.”

Glenigan economics director Allan Wilén:

“The Lyons Housing Review’s commitment to encourage more small and medium sized developers back into the sector is welcome and should help to increase the flow of smaller sites into development pipeline.

“Encouragingly, Sir Michael Lyons has identified the planning system as a major hurdle to delivering more homes. The review believes that councils and communities have a responsibility to ensure adequate sites are identified for development in their locality and that the Planning Inspectorate must step in where sufficient sites are not provided.

“This appears to be a welcome endorsement of the current National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) regime; Glenigan research has found that NPPF has helped to lift the number of planning applications and their success rate over the last three years.”

Grainia Long, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Housing and a member of the Lyons commission:

“This report is the most comprehensive approach since the Barker Review of housing supply 10 years ago – and if implemented would bring a renewed urgency to addressing the housing crisis.  

“We welcome the focus on investment in homes for shared ownership and private and social rent and the recognition that a range of providers working in partnership is vital to build the homes we need. 

“As the report points out, housebuilding is the best way to boost the economy and much of the investment comes back to the Treasury in increased tax revenue.

“We understand that it would be extremely difficult for any political party to commit to increasing borrowing in the current environment.

“But the issue of the investment needed to tackle our housing crisis must be addressed and we welcome the report’s recognition that housing should be a leading candidate for extra public investment when that becomes available.”

Friends of the Earth head of policy Mike Childs:

“Urgent action is needed to tackle the shortage of affordable homes, but any new construction must not lead to significant increases in carbon pollution or damage nature.

“A radical overhaul of housing policy is also urgently needed. This must include new and existing homes, water and energy efficiency, access to nature and the prioritisation of public transport.”

Home Builders Federation executive chairman Stewart Baseley:

“We welcome the commitment by Labour to increase housing supply. While we have seen a big increase in housebuilding activity in recent months, we are still not delivering enough homes to meet the country’s needs.

“Policies that would result in more land coming forward for development more quickly and further assist first-time buyers would clearly provide a boost to housing supply.

“We look forward to working with the Labour Party to develop their policies as we move towards the general election.”

UK Green Building Council director of policy and communicatons John Alker:

“The Lyons Review demonstrates that there needn’t be a trade-off between the quality and quantity of new homes.

“Its strong support for a ‘genuine zero carbon’ standard and reversal of the exemption for small sites is hugely welcome. Zero carbon homes are not only better for the environment, but reduce energy bills for householders and contribute to our energy security.”

National Grid head of commercial property Richard Alden:

“As the company responsible for the management of around 500 of National Grid’s surplus sites, we have significant brownfield land that can be made available for much needed housing.

“But we recognise we can’t do this alone and will continue to forge relationships with partners to bring our sites back to beneficial use.  Our sites have the potential to provide 20,000 homes nationally, including 10,000 in London alone and we will strive to maximise their potential.

“We work with a variety of stakeholders and partners to return our land to beneficial use, and as such welcome the proposal for Olympic Park-style new homes corporations. It is vital that these new organisations have the power and freedom to remove many of the uncertainties and restrictions which unnecessarily slow the development of suitable land.”

BDO real estate partner Ed Goodworth:

“Speaking to housebuilders across the UK, we’ve found that stablising the planning process is a key priority for them as is getting clear commitments from local authorities to how many houses they will build and how they will deliver their housing plans.

“These are just two ways to boost the housebuilding sector, especially for the smaller developers,  which in turn will create new homes for those new to the housing market. Policymakers need to address the supply issue, in order to meet the UK’s housing demands.”

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