Shadow housing secretary vows to boost social housing and council development under “refreshed model” for housebuilding 

The shadow housing secretary has vowed to overhaul the UK’s housebuilding model and end the ‘cowardice’ that has led to a shift from “bricks to benefit”.

Lisa Nandy, addressing the Chartered Institute of Housing’s annual conference in Manchester this morning, accused the Conservative of presiding over a system “defined by cowardice, that has failed, for 13 years, to support the foundations of a decent, secure life”.

Describing her view of the current system, she said: “Politicians who are so afraid of the taboo around the greenbelt and in fear of backbench revolts they would rather sit it out and watch housebuilding plummet to its lowest level in a generation with a £17bn hit to the economy.

lisa nandy

Lisa Nandy speaking at this morning’s CIH conference in Manchester

“Who lack the will or imagination to take on a system rigged against first time buyers seeking a home, in favour of cash-rich speculators.

“And a land market that inflates prices, incentivises speculation over productive investment and allows money to bleed out of the system.”

Nandy said a Labour government would rethink the planning system and tackle the taboo of green belt development, saying it would release “poor-quality ex-industrial land and dilapidated, neglected shrubland” that is classed as green belt to build more housing.

She reiterated Labour’s plan to reverse Michael Gove’s changes to the National Planning Policy Framework, including reintroducing local housing targets.

She said: “We’ll replace the current chaos with a plan across England.

“Our government will require every area to have a plan for that place. A local growth plan which includes housing delivery, will reverse many of the changes to the NPPF made in December last year and will reintroduce local housing targets because the decision to abandon them was the very definition of political cowardice, weakness in the face of backbench hostility.”

She said Labour would reform compulsory purchase orders, removing ‘hope value’ – which she said has allowed “to sit on land in expectation of large, unearned profits while housing need goes unmet”.

Nandy also pledged to create local development corporations, accountable to communities “replacing a reactive and overly adversarial approach to new housebuilding with a partnership, where communities, state and business work hand in hand”.

She said Labour supports the Right to Buy, under which council tenants can buy their home with a discount but is against the loss of social housing stock. She repeated a pledge to extend home ownership through a new state-backed mortgage insurance scheme.

Nandy also pledged to boost social house building and said Labour would not tolerate council housing being a “dirty word.”

She said: “We don’t believe that there is any way to grow the economy without building significant numbers of houses in this country. And we don’t believe that you can build significant numbers of houses in this country without substantial programme of social house building but we carry on.”

A Fair Deal for Housing campaign 

A fair deal 3x2

Housing Today believes the government should not back away from its manifesto pledge of building 300,000 new homes a year by the middle of the decade. We badly need more homes and a lack of supply is a major factor in creating problems of affordability for both buyers and renters.

Over the next few months, Housing Today  will be exploring potential solutions to help us ramp up housebuilding to 300,000. These are likely to, include different ways of working, funding asks of government and policy ideas that could boost housebuilding.

We want to hear from you: what do you think can make a difference at a policy level?

What can the industry do better?

We believe that, with the right commitments from ministers and the industry, it is possible to build more homes and help the government to meet its objectives to “build beautiful”, improve quality and safety, boost home ownership and level up the UK.

Click here to find out more about the campaign

To contribute ideas to our A Fair Deal for Housing Ideas Zone database, click here.

A Fair Deal for Housing is part of the Building the Future Commission.