Starmer to make housing a key manifesto policy

According to the Times last week, Sir Keir Starmer MP has said he will be directing efforts towards gaining seats in constituencies where there are pro-development attitudes and voters who support housebuilding.

It is more than likely that housebuilding is being geared up to take the centre stage in Labour’s manifesto. Starmer and Shadow Secretary of State Angela Rayner MP have already committed to ‘building 1.5 million homes within five years’, embracing the idea of releasing Green Belt land for this purpose.

Shadow Minister for Housing Matthew Pennycook MP reiterated Labour’s approach and stated:

 ‘We cannot meet housing need in England without releasing some green belt land for development and politicians who claim otherwise are simply not being straight with the public.

 ‘But nor should we accept the haphazard release of green belt land for speculative fringe development as has been the case for the past 14 years under this Conservative government.

 ‘Labour will take a more strategic approach, one that prioritises the release of low quality grey belt land within green belts, while protecting, enhancing, and making more accessible high-quality green belt land, and ensuring all green belt development meets local housing need’.

This stance has previously been backed by former Conservative Housing Minister, Sir Brandon Lewis, who has spoken out on the need to ‘review and adapt’ Green Belt policy, and claimed “disused industrial sites, car parks and derelict warehouses now occupy space where families could grow, and communities thrive”.

After stating that he would grant councils more authority to address local housing needs, Starmer has been accused by the Prime Minister of being prepared to ‘tarmac over the Green Belt’ in an effort to bump up housebuilding.

It is becoming increasingly clear that planning policy reform will both form a major part of the Labour Manifesto and be a battleground for the Conservatives and the Labour Party. The upcoming May local elections will be a good sounding board for which policy speaks more to voters and may be the last chance before the General Election for parties to figure out what works.

Author: Melisa Geshteja

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