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Labour Ponders Home Building Moves

Labour is considering giving councils more powers to make landowners go through with building projects, in an effort to tackle the housing shortage.

Leader Ed Miliband will say too many developers with planning permission for projects are "sitting on land" while it gains value instead of building on it.

The party is looking at giving local authorities in England "use-it-or-lose-it" powers over developers.

The government said confiscating land "will not help build a single house".

Mr Miliband will use his speech to Labour's National Policy Forum to say planning permission has been granted for 400,000 homes in England that have not been built.

Too many developers are holding on to land while it gains value, rather than pushing ahead with projects for which they have permission, he will argue.


In his speech on Saturday, Mr Miliband will say "obstacles to housebuilding" must be overcome.

He will add: "Across our country, there are firms sitting on land, waiting for it to accumulate in value and not building on it. Landowners with planning permission, who simply will not build. We have to change that."

Mr Miliband will also say: "All options should be on the table, including giving local authorities real power to say to the worst offenders that they should either use the land, or lose the land.

"Permission to build should mean landowners build. If there is unnecessary hoarding, developers should be encouraged to do what they are in business to do, build houses."

The Labour leader will admit that governments over the past few decades have failed to deal with the issue of housing shortages.

This has pushed up prices, preventing millions of young people from buying a home, he will add.

Planning minister Nick Boles said: "Yet again Ed Miliband is too weak to offer a coherent policy. Most normal planning permissions already expire after a three-year period and councils don't have to renew them.

"Labour clearly learnt nothing from its failures in government as 400,000 homes represents less than two years' worth of the number of new homes that we need to build. And confiscating any land from development will not help build a single house."


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