Labour task force to consider ‘new towns’

In a recent interview with the Financial Times, shadow housing minister, Matthew Pennycook MP discussed Labour’s bold vision for planning reform if they form a Government later this year.

Labour’s emerging vision aims to address housing shortages, and “deliver a fresh generation of new towns” extending to the liberalisation of planning, reinstating house building targets and identifying “lower-quality greenbelt land” for housing.

Matthew Pennycook MP emphasised that increasing the surcharge on stamp duty from 2% to 3% will generate £25 million a year, which would be pumped into councils to “hire 300 new planners”. This will I am sure go down well with many readers!

Pennycook envisions the creation of “a fresh generation of new towns” including extensions to existing towns “The mechanism by which Labour will select these areas is for the incoming DLUHC Secretary of State (Angela Rayner MP) to put a task force together on day one of a Labour government to report back within six months”, Pennycook said. This ambitious plan aims to alleviate urban congestion, provide affordable housing options, and promote sustainable development.

In pursuit of effective delivery, Labour plans to amend the NPPF to “enforce tough planning targets for councils”, emphasising the need for local authorities to meet specific development goals for building completions to go up.

Recognising the need to reduce home-building costs, Labour intends to reform how land is valued via compulsory purchase orders. This reform would compel landowners to sell plots at a fraction of their potential market price, contributing to a more economically feasible approach to land acquisition by councils.

Labour’s proposed approach holds promise as the party strives to drive up housebuilding, create more inclusive, sustainable development and deliver new towns – a much-need initiative to address the evolving housing crisis in the UK. New CPO powers may also create much work for learned friends in the Temple.

Author: Melisa Geshteja

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