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Labor promises to build new towns to curry favor with housebuilders

Labor will build a new generation of cities in a bid to tackle the housing crisis, Angela Rayner will say as she tries to curry favor with the housing sector.

The deputy Labor leader has said the “foundations of our past” are the inspiration for the proposals, citing her party’s record in government after the Second World War, when towns such as Stevenage and Basildon were built.

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

New towns will be a crucial part of Labour’s plans to tackle Britain’s housing crisis, she is expected to say.

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

Labor has blamed the Conservatives for the low number of approvals for housing plans in recent years.

House building has risen since the last election, with 202,300 new homes starting 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 mid-2022, with Labor blaming the planning system and the government’s decision to scrap mandatory housing targets under backbench pressure.

New homes are being built at the Chilmington development in Ashford, Kent
House building has risen since the last election, but planning applications have fallen since mid-2022 (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Speaking ahead of the speech, Ms Rayner said: “Labour’s new towns are just one part of our ambitious housing agenda, which will see swathes of good quality, affordable homes built in the national interest.

“Developers who meet their commitments to build high-quality, well-designed and sustainable affordable homes, with green spaces and transport links and schools and GP practices nearby, will experience a new dawn under Labour. But those who have shied away from their responsibilities for too long will be vigorously held to account.

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