David Alcock, MD at Blend

The housing decline: how will the next PM tackle it?

Sir Kier Starmer is promising more homes, more power handed to local authorities to build in the green belt and bold plans to reform the archaic planning system.

Earlier this year, a new report published by the HBF laid bare the implications of the Government’s anti-development approach to house building, warning that UK housing supply could halve and fall to the lowest level since the second world war.

The report highlights the growing list of interventions by the quango Natural England that could see supply fall from 233,000 last year to below 120,000 homes per annum in the coming years.

Just a few days before the report was published, the Labour leader Sir Kier Starmer set out the five missions that will form the backbone of his party’s 2024 manifesto.

According to its “5 Missions for A Better Britain” policy document published in February, bold plans would involve helping first-time buyers onto the housing ladder and building more affordable homes, by reforming planning and arcane compulsory purchase rules, with new protections for renters.

But one area where the Labour leader was particularly unforgiving was planning.

In an address to the British Chambers of Commerce annual conference last month, he identified the current inefficiencies of the existing planning system and argued that it ¬— alongside blocks to building — are holding back growth and leaving the economy "stuck in second gear".

He then promised to focus discussions on identifying the vested interests which need to be overcome to achieve this mission, and to make planning reform a central part of Labour government’s growth agenda.

Labour’s shadow secretary of state for the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities comittee, Lisa Nandy, has said that tackling the housing crisis is central to growth, and that the next Labour government will rebalance home ownership towards first-time buyers, rebuild council housing stock “and bring homes back into the ownership of local councils and communities”.

Describing how a future Labour government will achieve that she added: “This will include handing real powers to local leaders”.

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