The Labour and Conservative parties squared up over housing reform and environmental building policy as they launched their election manifestos this week

In its manifesto, launched on Wednesday, Labour pledged to increase social housing provision and ensure that all developments conform to the sustainable buildings regulations.

The Conservatives promised to give local communities a greater say over planning decisions and halt development on green sites.

The Liberal Democrats were due to launch their manifesto yesterday, after Building went to press.

Labour highlighted social housing as a key priority for the party. The manifesto states: “The increased supply and quality of social housing is central to Labour’s belief in mixed, sustainable communities.”

The party has promised to increase the annual supply of social homes by 50% over the next three years, and to continue its regeneration programmes in the Thames Gateway, the Midlands and the North.

Other measures put forward by the party include a commitment to invest £180bn in transport by 2015 and a pledge to continue the city academy PFI building programme. It also pledges to forge a strong partnership with trade unions to improve skills training.

The Tories are right to prioritise brownfield but I am disappointed they have not heeded the call to equalise VAT

George Ferguson, RIBA

The Tories have pledged to “liberate local government” by giving local communities greater involvement in the planning process. The party has also focused on social housing, saying it will extend the right to buy to tenants of housing associations as part of a drive to boost shared ownership schemes.

The party promised to promote development on brownfield sites, rather than building on green areas, and said it would offer greater incentives to make homes more energy efficient.

The manifesto states: “We will call a halt to Labour’s plans to concrete over our green fields. We will promote development on brownfield sites and establish more green belts with tighter development rules.”

RIBA president George Ferguson welcomed the Conservatives’ focus on brownfield development, but said he was disappointed with omissions from the manifesto.

He said: “The Conservatives are right to prioritise brownfield development but I am disappointed they have not heeded the call by the RIBA and others to equalise VAT on all forms of construction to encourage regeneration.”