Labour leader Ed Miliband is to set up a commission to review his party’s housing policy under the chairmanship of former BBC Trust chairman Sir Michael Lyons.
Speaking at yesterday’s party conference, Miliband also pledged that his party will build 200,000 new homes a year by 2020 if it comes to power.
He said that sites of new towns and garden cities would be identified, and that developers who sat on land would be told to use it or lose it.
Miliband told delegates: “There are nine million people in this country renting a home, many of whom would want to buy.
“We don’t just have a cost of living crisis, we have a housing crisis too.
“We will say to private developers – you can’t just sit on land and refuse to build. Either use the land or lose the land.”
Miliband also hinted at new planning powers. He said: “We’ll say to local authorities that they have a right to grow and that neighbouring authorities can’t just stop them. We’ll identify new towns and garden cities.
“We will have a clear aim that by the end of the parliament Britain will be building 200,000 homes a year, more than at any time in a generation.”
John Cridland, leader of business organisation the CBI, said that Labour’s plans revealed great ambition but said Miliband should not have criticised developers.
He said: “We have fallen woefully behind on house building and the commitment to 200,000 homes a year is a great ambition. To achieve this, we need house builders on board, not criticised for holding on to land when it’s not viable to build on it.”
A spokesperson for the Home Builders Federation said developers did not unnecessarily hoard land.
The Town and Country Planning Association welcomed the proposal for a new generation of garden cities such as Welwyn and Letchworth. She said the ideals that inspired them were relevant today, and that they created new jobs and sustainable lifestyles.
Chief executive Kate Henderson said: “The garden cities were fired by a sense of idealism and enthusiasm with numerous voluntary organisations.”