Angela Rayner MP, Shadow Levelling Up Secretary, has given more details on Labour’s plans to build 1.5 million homes in their first five years at an event held by The Mirror newspaper at the end of January.
Labour intends to deliver its first wave of new towns, but Rayner has implied that it is not just a long-term goal. Rayner stated that the new towns pledge is ‘absolutely key’ to delivering Labour’s housing targets, noting that ‘Without those new towns, it’s going to be incredibly hard and challenging for me to get to that 1.5 million target of those homes.’
Luke Murphy, Associate Director for the left-of-centre think tank, Public Policy Research, raised concerns that, while new towns will make a contribution, the existing post-war generation of new towns had delivered only 1.1 million new homes over 30 years while the current housing shortage in England is four million homes.
Murphy stated that ‘We need some of everything and we won’t deliver the homes we need just through new towns and garden villages and garden communities’ and called on Labour to move away from the discretionary planning system towards a system that engages local communities more effectively within the planning process.
Angela responded to this, stating that Labour will be looking at other sites such as brownfield and did stress that Labour would also be looking at planned ‘Grey Belt’ land, areas of disused land in the Green Belt, stating ‘New towns are crucial but they’re not the only show in town.’
More news on Labour’s plans for their first five years are always welcome and it will be interesting for many to hear that ‘new towns’ will begin in the shorter term rather than being only a long-term aim. Mentions of ‘Grey Belt’ by Rayner continue to cement it as a guaranteed policy but concerns remain that Labour still isn’t doing enough to outline their proposed changes to the current planning system if they form a government in late 2024.