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Labour commissions road map to deliver 200,000 new homes a year

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Labour commissions road map to deliver 200,000 new homes a year

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Central Government, Communities, Development

RIBA calls for national minimum space standards in all new-build housing RIBA calls for national minimum space standards in all new-build housing

The Labour Party has commissioned Sir Michael Lyons to draw up a road map aimed at boosting the supply of new homes in England by 200,000 a year.

The independent Housing Commission was announced by leader Ed Miliband during a visit to Stevenage today.

Chartered Institute of Housing chief executive Grainia Long has been appointed to advise Sir Michael in reviewing evidence and developing his conclusions.

Grainia Long said: “We are in the grip of a housing crisis, with millions of people struggling to access a decent home at a price they can afford. We have no hope of tackling this unless we achieve a big increase in the number of homes we build every year – we are currently building less than half the number we need to keep up with demand.

“This supply crisis is affecting all aspects of people’s lives. A shortage of the right homes in the right places has a serious impact on the cost of housing, labour mobility and housing choice. I’m pleased to be part of this independent commission which aims to identify potential solutions to that crisis and the action required to build the homes we need.”

Speaking today, Miliband said that Labour intends to tackle councils that block homes and developers that hoard land.

He said: “David Cameron is presiding over the lowest levels of homes built in peacetime since the 1920s - and already families are suffering from some of the worst housing shortages for a generation. This is now part of a cost-of-living crisis for millions of people for whom the dream of home ownership is fading into the distance."

Miliband has asked the Housing Commission to draw up detailed proposals on both the 'right to grow' and 'use it or lose it' powers, as well as other priorities for the next Labour government, including:

• How local authorities could identify sites for - and deliver a plan to build - new towns and garden cities.
• Simplify rules surrounding the Housing Revenue Account to give local authorities more flexibility in how existing public funding is spent.
• Ensure communities get a greater share of windfall gains from the granting of planning permission and have more of a say in how they are used, including providing more social and affordable housing locally.

Sir Michael Lyons, a former chairman of the BBC Trust, is the non-executive chairman of the English Cities Fund. A former Labour member of parliament, Sir Michael headed up a study into local government spending that ran from 2000 to 2007.

Mark Henderson, chief executive of Home Group, said: “We readily applaud the ambition to create 200,000 new homes – albeit this still falls 32,000 short of the new households needed each year. The Lyons Commission is a positive step towards delivering a joined up approach to developing at scale.

“Key areas Home Group want the Lyons Commission to consider are the need for an overall strategy, focused initiatives promoting significant house building and unlocking land that must be put to better use.

“This could be achieved through enhancing compulsory purchase order powers to allow local authorities to acquire land without without up front payment to secure early delivery – with the land value being returned to the original owner when receipts flow from the developed land.

“Home Group has argued strongly that we need delivery of affordable homes at scale and, via the use of Housing Zones, has advocated ways in which this can be delivered. Ultimately, this needs to be led by a National Housing Strategy that clearly identifies how this development can happen and happen quickly.

“The availability of reasonably-priced land has long been a thorn in the side of development. There needs to be a policy change if we are to free up sufficiently large tracts of public sector land as the pursuit of ‘best value’ has too often driven development away from the affordable homes that thousands of families need.”

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