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Manifestos: Cities and housing

Manifestos: Cities and housing mubus7
Outlining the party positions on the all-important topic of housing and cities in general

CONSERVATIVE

• Aim to at least double the number of custom-built and self-built homes by 2020, and take forward a new Right to Build, requiring councils to allocate land to local people to build or commission their own home, as in line with most of Europe.

• Ensure that brownfield land is used as much as possible for new development. Require local authorities to have a register of what is available, and ensure that 90 per cent of suitable brownfield sites have planning permission for housing by 2020.

• Create a new London Land Commission, with a mandate to identify and release all surplus brownfield land owned by the public sector.

• Fund housing zones to transform brownfield sites into new housing to create a proposed 95,000 homes.

LABOUR

• Ensure at least 200,000 new homes a year are built by 2020, with first priority for local first-time buyers.

• Give local authorities the power to give first call to first-time buyers on new homes in areas of housing growth. Unlock a Future Homes Fund by requiring that the billions of pounds saved in Help to Buy ISAs be invested in increasing housing supply.

• Increase competition in the housebuilding industry by backing small builders, including through a Help to Build scheme and by getting the public sector building again.

• Build more affordable homes by prioritising capital investment for housing and by reforming the council house financing system.

• Give local authorities powers to reduce the number of empty homes, including higher council tax on long-term empty properties.

• Build a new generation of garden cities to boost housing.

• Tackle the causes of homelessness and rough sleeping.

housesHousing stock by tenure in England, 2001/01 – 2010/11 (Image: ONS)

LIBERAL DEMOCRATS

• Set an ambitious goal to build 300,000 homes a year, including at least ten new Garden Cities in England, in areas where there is local support, providing tens of thousands of high-quality new homes, with gardens and shared green space, jobs, schools and public transport.

• Up to five major new settlements along a Garden Cities Railway between Oxford and Cambridge.

• Ambitious targets for development on unwanted public sector sites through the Homes and Communities Agency, with Local Authorities given new powers to ensure development happens on any unused site in which the public sector has an interest.

• A government commissioning programme to boost house building towards the 300,000 target; where the market alone fails to deliver sufficient numbers, government agencies will directly commission homes for sale and rent to fill the gap (following the model already being trialled in Cambridgeshire).

• A new government-backed Housing Investment Bank to provide long-term capital for major new settlements and help attract finance for major house building projects. 

• Increase the uptake of Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems to maximise value for money for the taxpayer.

• Update construction and planning standards to future-proof buildings against higher summer temperatures.

GREEN PARTY

• Tackle air pollution, which causes an estimated 29,000 premature deaths each year in the UK. UK and EU standards on air pollution are out of date, so would follow more rigorous standards that respect World Health Organization guidelines.

• Aim for house price stability by making property investment and speculation less attractive and by increasing housing supply. 

• Give the Bank of England the powers it has requested to limit the size of mortgages in relation to the property value and the borrower’s income.

• Take steps to ensure that development is more evenly distributed.

• Make ‘buy to let’ less attractive – so reducing pressure on house prices – by removing tax incentives, including the deduction of mortgage interest as an expense, and reforming the ‘wear and tear’ allowance.

• Introduce new higher Council Tax bands for more expensive homes, with higher rates for empty homes.

• Scrap the government’s Help to Buy scheme, ‘which does nothing to help those in the greatest housing need and contributes to excessive demand’, saving £600 million a year.

• Take action on the current 700,000 empty homes to bring them back into use. Halve this number through Empty Property Use Orders.

• Gradually phase out Stamp Duty Land Tax and consider a Land Value Tax.

• Minimise encroachment onto undeveloped ‘greenfield sites’ wherever possible by reusing previously developed sites that have fallen into disuse.

• Reduce VAT on housing renovation and repair work (including insulation) to five per cent, costing £1.6billion a year. At present there is no VAT on constructing new dwellings but there is VAT at 20 per cent on converting and renovating old buildings to be used as homes. This encourages new building at the expense of saving land and using what we have.

• Introduce the right to rent (where local councils step in to help those in difficulty with their mortgage to rent their home). One-third of mortgage borrowers are expected to struggle if interest rates increase by two per cent.

• Break up the big builder cartels and diversify the house-building industry so that more homes are built by small- and medium-sized builders and by community-led and cooperative initiatives. Achieve this by bringing transparency to the land market, the transfer of public land into community land trusts, and parceling big regeneration sites into smaller plots through the Custom Build model.

• Provide 500,000 social rented homes to high sustainability standards by increasing the social housing budget from £1.5billion a year to £6billion a year in the lifetime of the Parliament, removing borrowing caps from local councils, and creating 35,000 jobs.

• Prevent new building on flood plains.

urbanProportion of the usual resident population living in urban and rural areas, England and Wales, 2011 (Image: ONS)

UKIP

• Identify long-term dormant land held by central and local government so it can be released for affordable developments.

• Relax planning regulations for the conversion of off-high road commercial and office space and other existing buildings to affordable residential use.

• Not allow non-British nationals access to the Right to Buy or Help to Buy schemes, unless they have served in Her Majesty’s Armed Forces.

• Build 500 affordable rent homes every year.

SCOTTISH NATIONAL PARTY

• Back investment in a house-building target across the UK of 100,000 affordable homes per year. Use capital investment to deliver a further expansion of house-building in Scotland, including affordable homes for purchase or rent.

PLAID CYMRU

• Build 4 Wales infrastructure programme will be used to further assist local authorities or registered social landlords to build new houses across Wales based on local need.

• Extend the homebuy scheme to allow first-time buyer to get on the property ladder.

• Help reduce fuel bills by retrofitting houses as part of a Green New Deal and help private homeowners with a reduction in VAT on certified house repairs.

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