Labour pledges to build new towns in drive to curry favour with housebuilders

Labour will build a new generation of towns in a bid to tackle the housing crisis, Angela Rayner will say as she attempts to curry favour with the housebuilding sector.

The deputy Labour leader has said the “foundations of our past” are the inspiration for the proposals, pointing to her party’s record in Government following the Second World War, when towns like Stevenage and Basildon were built.

Speaking at the UK Real Estate Investment and Infrastructure Forum (UKREiiF), a property industry conference, Ms Rayner is expected to say Labour will back “developers who deliver” if it wins power.

Ms Rayner, who is also the shadow housing secretary, will tell the conference a Labour government would set high standards on design, quality, affordable homes, green spaces and infrastructure.

New towns will be a crucial part of Labour’s plans to grasp the housing crisis in the UK, she is expected to say.

She will meanwhile signal Labour is willing to work with “responsible” developers who can deliver affordable homes alongside green spaces, and the schools and transport links residents need.

Labour has blamed the Conservatives for a low level of housing planning approvals in recent years.

Housebuilding has risen since the last election, with 202,300 new homes started in 2022/23 compared to 187,870 in 2019/20, returning to levels last seen just before the financial crash.

But planning applications have fallen since the middle of 2022, with Labour blaming the planning system and the Government’s decision to scrap mandatory housing targets in the face of backbench pressure.

New houses being constructed on the Chilmington development in Ashford, Kent
Housebuilding has risen since the last election, but planning applications have fallen since the middle of 2022 (Gareth Fuller/PA)

When Sir Keir Starmer set out his “first steps” for a Labour government last week, housing was not explicitly mentioned in the pledge card, but the Labour leader said this would feed into the party’s commitment to create economic stability.

Ahead of the speech, Ms Rayner said: “Labour’s new towns are just one part of our ambitious house-building agenda which will see swathes of good quality, affordable houses built in the national interest.

“Developers who deliver on their obligations to build high quality, well designed and sustainable affordable housing, with green spaces and transport links and schools and GPs surgeries nearby, will experience a new dawn under Labour. But those who have wriggled out of their responsibilities for too long will be robustly held to account.

“Labour’s towns of the future will be built on the foundations of our past. The post-war period taught us that when the government plays a strategic role in housebuilding, we can turbo-charge growth to the benefit of working people across Britain. That is what Labour’s plans will achieve.”