It was the Conservative Party’s turn to launch a manifesto today and its 88-page document promised to be for ‘mainstream Britain’. Housing took a bit of a back seat to other issues, including Brexit (obviously) and social care, but there was still plenty to take away to build on the social housing revolution that was trailed at the weekend.
In the “HOMES FOR ALL” section, the manifesto acknowledges that “we have not built enough homes in this country for generations” and pledges to “fix the dysfunctional housing market”. It recognises that “the key to this is to build enough homes to meet demand” – we couldn’t agree more!
As well as honouring a commitment to build one million homes by the end of 2020, Theresa May has said that an additional 500,000 homes will be built by the end of 2022. This is still under the 300,000 homes per year that are needed, but it is certainly a step in the right direction. The manifesto says that sustainable development is what “we need to see happen in every village, town and city across our country” and it acknowledges that housing growth should be rebalanced across the country not just the south-east.
The Conservatives have maintained their long-held belief in protecting the Green Belt but have been radical in other areas of their thinking. The manifesto outlines the importance of building better houses and supporting “high-quality, high-density housing like mansion blocks, mews houses and mansion streets”. They also want to make it “both easier and more certain that public sector landowners, and communities themselves, benefit from the increase in land value from urban regeneration and development.”
It will be essential to ensure that a wide range of stakeholders are incentivised to provide the housing that the UK so desperately needs. Councils got a bit of a slap on the wrist for being “amongst the worst offenders in failing to build sustainable, integrated communities” and accused of putting political gain over social purpose. It will be up to all of us to show councils that, in fact, there is widespread support for housing so that they find it easier to make what they once thought were controversial decisions in planning.
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(Above) Theresa May with the Conservative manifesto. (Courtesy of PA Images).