The Labour Party has pledged that, should it come into power at the next general election, it will tackle the UK’s housing crisis by building new houses on a grand scale and get more small and medium sized companied involved.
According to current estimates, England needs more than 200,000 new houses every year. While the coalition has brought in a number of measures to boost house building, the opposition party has vowed to do more should it be elected in 2015.
Speaking at a fringe event, shadow housing minister Jack Dromey MP promised to cut red tape around land availability. Meanwhile, in his leader’s speech Ed Miliband said that the party would create new garden cities in a bid solve the problem.
Garden cities were originally broached by Sir Ebenezer Howard in 1898, who came up with the idea of building self-contained communities boasting industry, agriculture and homes that are surrounded by green belt land. As a result, two garden cities - Welwyn Garden City and Letchworth Garden City - were created.
Julie Evans, chief executive of the National Federation of Builders (NFB), commented that the most vital thing when it comes to improving the housing market is to employ local builders to create small developments.
She explained: “We need to free up house builders to build in the way we are freeing up house buyers to buy. Not all local communities are against new developments for future generations, but they would prefer smaller, more personal clusters that SMEs are best placed to provide, rather than huge developments.
“We let smaller house builders leave the industry at our peril,” she said.
Brian Berry, chief executive at the Federation of Master Builders, also weighed in. He agreed that smaller settlements are needed to tackle the housing crisis, and SMEs should be used to deliver this.
Mr Berry explained that the issues with access to finances still remain for SME house builders, adding that he would welcome a move by the Labour party to include a new finance vehicle that would help people in the industry in their housing policy package.