Starmer strives to paint Labour as party of housebuilding

Sir Keir Starmer will on Wednesday step up his attempt to rebrand Labour as the party of housebuilding, vowing to take on those opposed to new developments in order to tackle Britain’s endemic housing crisis.

In a speech to the British Chambers of Commerce in London, the Labour leader will say that his party would in government make “tough choices but the right choices” when it comes to the planning system.

“We choose the builders, not the blockers; the future, not the past; renewal not decline. We choose growth,” he will say.

With Labour far ahead in the opinion polls, Starmer’s party is facing increasing scrutiny on what it would do if he became prime minister after an election expected next year.

A poll by Savanta overnight gave Labour a 17-point lead over Rishi Sunak’s Conservative party, at 46 per cent and 29 per cent respectively.

Starmer will say on Wednesday that loosening the planning system would be essential for improving the supply side of the economy and arresting Britain’s “economic decline”.

The Conservative government used to have a formal policy of building 300,000 new homes a year in England, enforced through local authority targets.

But Sunak watered down that system in December, soon after becoming prime minister, after a rebellion by hostile Tory backbench MPs, saying the target would become advisory rather than mandatory.

Lichfields, a planning consultancy, believes that decision could lead to the number of new homes built in England falling from 233,000 to 156,000 a year.

Some Conservative MPs have criticised Sunak’s decision to drop mandatory housebuilding targets. Simon Clarke, a former cabinet minister, said his party is at risk of becoming the “party of nimbyism”, a reference to “not in my back yard” anti-development protesters.

Starmer will use his speech to repeat his pledge to bring back those council-level housing targets in an attempt to boost growth.

“A generation and its hopes are being blocked by those who — more often than not — enjoy the secure homes and jobs that they’re denying to others,” Starmer will say.

“Mark my words: we will take on planning reform. We’ll bring back local housing targets. We’ll streamline the process for national infrastructure projects and commercial development and we’ll remove the veto used by big landowners to stop shovels hitting the ground.” 

Supporting more development is an easier political sell for Starmer because Labour voters are more likely to live in cities and tend to favour more housebuilding.

Many Conservative voters, by contrast, live in rural areas where hostility towards developments encroaching on green fields is greater.

But the Starmer approach is also designed to attract a younger generation which, after decades of spiralling house price growth, has been locked out of home ownership in rural and urban areas.

In an interview with The Times, Starmer accused the Conservative government of killing “the aspiration of home owning” for a generation, warning that housebuilding could fall to its lowest level since the second world war.

Source link

Leave a Comment