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New Town Sites to Be Announced by Labour in First Year of Power

Labour Promises Wave of New Towns in First Year

Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader and shadow housing secretary, is set to announce a bold initiative for building new towns within a year of Labour taking office.

This plan, which was initially mentioned by Keir Starmer during the party conference in October, aims to address the UK’s housing crisis by constructing high-quality, affordable homes. Labour’s objective is to complete 1.5 million new homes during their first term in office.

Rayner’s speech at a housing conference in Leeds will draw parallels to the post-war new town developments under Labour, emphasizing the importance of government involvement in strategic housebuilding to spur economic growth and improve living standards.

Labour’s Deputy Leader Angela Rayner Proposes New Towns Initiative

A new town task force, comprising independent experts, will be appointed to identify suitable sites for these developments. Factors like local community input, housing demand, job prospects, and transport infrastructure will be considered. Councils will have the opportunity to bid for these projects, and recommendations are expected within six months of Labour taking office, with construction commencing within the first term.

Rayner will highlight that developers who meet their commitments to build sustainable and affordable housing with necessary amenities will find strong support under Labour. Conversely, those who evade responsibilities will face stringent accountability.

Labour’s push for new housing comes in the wake of declining planning applications in England. Statistics show a 9% drop in planning applications and a 12% decrease in decisions made by district planning authorities between October and December 2023 compared to the previous year.

Additionally, a cross-party think tank, the Social Market Foundation, has proposed a “fairness tax” on certain property market activities to fund new social housing.

This tax would target long-term empty properties, purchases by overseas owners, and homes quickly resold for profit. The think tank estimates this could generate up to £4 billion annually, potentially tripling the current rate of social home building.

The Conservative party, however, remains skeptical. Richard Holden, the party chair, criticized Labour’s historical performance on housebuilding, noting that past attempts to create new towns under Labour were unsuccessful.

He expressed confidence that the current government would meet its 2019 manifesto pledge of building a million new homes by the end of the current parliamentary term.

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