Written by Cameron Meads.

Image credit: PA Media

Labour have today doubled down on their plans to create new towns if elected to Government, as part of their commitment to deliver 1.5 million homes. Speaking today from UK REiiF in Leeds, Shadow Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Angela Rayner, committed to supporting private developers to build high-quality and affordable homes within these new towns in their first term. This includes a ‘New Towns Code’ which will include a target to ensure 40% of homes are affordable, and an ‘infrastructure first’ approach, ensuring that New Towns have good transport links to nearby towns and city centres.

Labour has committed to selecting the locations of these new town sites in their first year in government.

While Labour has made clear they will back developers, they have sent a strong message today that they will only back high-quality development and developers that deliver on their obligations. This sends a signal that under Labour, the development industry can expect to see significant business and growth, with developers of the highest quality being at the forefront. 

The key message for the electorate is for Labour, building new homes isn’t just a numbers game. Their promise of banishing “identikit” homes from new towns also signals that developers and architects will need to be creative with their designs and ensure that they reflect local context and desires. This means that cookie-cutter approaches will not wash, even for delivering on ambitious housing targets.

While it’s tempting to be swept up in such a fresh approach to housing, especially in an industry that has been longing for government to show genuine ambition for some time, there are still several questions and challenges Labour will need to tackle:

  • What is the role of local authorities in delivering against these ambitions? Will development corporations be needed to remove local barriers to planning, particularly as new towns will likely be in more rural areas that aren’t used to housing densification?
  • Does the reinstatement of housing targets for local authorities come with the “teeth” needed to ensure under-performing local authorities can be compelled or removed from the decision-making process?
  • What is the relationship between Labour’s planning reforms and the New Towns policy?
  • Does the industry have the necessary capacity to deliver this quantum of new homes in the timescale set out?
  • New towns will likely reward large developers that can deliver at scale. How will this shift the market, and what is Labour’s plan to support small-medium developers in the market?
  • What other support would a Labour Government offer to overcome the current financial barriers to housing delivery on this proposed scale?

As answers to these questions become clearer and more questions emerge, Kanda will be on-hand to provide up-to-date insights, analysis, and advice to clients on how the sector can best navigate a future Labour Government.

If you would like to know any more about today’s announcement or how we can support your project, get in touch with us at info@kandaconsulting.co.uk

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