The Liberal Democrats and housing – a recipe for disaster


The Liberal Democrats are the latest into the race with the release of their manifesto.

http://www.libdems.org.uk/manifesto

6.5 Building more and better homes
The housing crisis in Britain has become an emergency. For far too long Britain has built many fewer homes than we need; unless we build enough to meet demand, year after year, we will find that housing costs rise further out of reach. That is why we have set an ambitious target of increasing the rate of housebuilding to 300,000 a year – almost double the current level. These new houses must be sustainably planned to ensure that excessive pressure is not placed on existing infrastructure.

Rising house prices are not necessarily due to too few homes being built. Interest rates, the ability of households to purchase for investment or second/holiday homes all push up house prices.

We will:
●● Directly build homes to fill the gap left by the market, to reach our housebuilding target of 300,000 homes a year, through a government
commissioning programme to build homes for sale and rent. We will ensure that half a million affordable, energy-efficient homes are built by the end of the parliament.

Why 300,000? building more houses to fill the gap in the market but not restricting other users of housing will simply mean more houses NOT used for housing. After all the lower house prices are the cheaper they are for say someone wanting a holiday home!

●● Create at least 10 new garden cities in England, providing tens of thousands of high-quality, zero-carbon homes, with gardens and shared green space, jobs, schools and public transport.

No thought given to the need to grow food!

●● Set up a new government-backed British Housing and Infrastructure Development Bank with a remit including providing long-term capital for major
new settlements and helping attract finance for major housebuilding projects.

●● End the Voluntary Right to Buy pilots that sell off housing association homes and the associated high value asset levy.

●● Lift the borrowing cap on local authorities and increase the borrowing capacity of housing associations so that they can build council and social housing.

●● Scrap exemptions on smaller housing development schemes from their obligation to provide affordable homes, and strengthen the hand of local
government to prevent large developers reneging on their commitments.

The affordable homes obligation is a flawed system but all this would do would be to encourage developers to split developments to get below the threshold.

●● Require local plans to take into account at least 15 years of future housing need – focusing on long-term development and community needs.

15 years! Whose needs – those of the local community or those wishing to move to the area from other parts of the UK. Housing needs or developers demands?

●● Create a community right of appeal in cases where planning decisions go against the approved local plan.

●● Enable local authorities to:
— Levy up to 200% council tax on second homes and ‘buy to leave empty’
investments from overseas.
— Enforce housebuilding on unwanted public sector land.
— Penalise excessive land-banking when builders with planning permission
have failed to build after three years.
— End the Right to Buy if they choose.

Again no mention of demand due to population increase largely a result of immigration. No acknowledgment of the fact that we have more houses than households!

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