Labour promises to build 'four or five' new towns in first term

Shadow minister seeks to recapture spirit of post-war housebuilding boom

A Labour government would aim to “recapture the spirit” of the post-war house-building boom, the new shadow housing minister has said.

Labour would establish four or five new towns in an attempt to fulfil its target of building 200,000 new homes a year throughout its time in office, said Emma Reynolds.

She insisted the commitment was to “quality” new towns, not quantity, and said garden cities were an interesting model.

“The last time there was a massive increase in housing supply was in the post-war period and we want to recapture that spirit,” she said.

“I don’t think we will do as well as the Attlee government, with 11 new towns; I think that is quite a lot. I would love to think we could deliver four or five, and that would still be significant.

“At the moment we are building less than half of the houses we need to keep up with demand, and that is why the market is so dysfunctional.”

Labour would incentivise councils to give large areas of land to development corporations who could borrow private money to build the new towns, with the Treasury acting as their guarantor.

Reynolds did not specify where the new towns would be sited, but spoke of the benefits of locating them near HS2, the proposed high-speed rail line running from London to Birmingham and beyond.

Industry analysts expect most of them to be built close to London to cater for people unable to afford to live in the city where they work.

One report suggested East Cambridgeshire and Welwyn Hatfield in Hertfordshire were the local authorities outside London that were most in need of new homes to cope with expanding populations.


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