Lib Dems promise to create 10 ‘Garden Cities’

Party leader Ed Davey revealed pledges to build Garden Cities, remove dangerous cladding and allow councils to raise Council Tax by 500% on second homes.

Ed Davey

The Liberal Democrats are promising to create 10 new ‘garden cities’, and remove dangerous cladding with no cost to leaseholders.

Leader Ed Davey (main picture) unveiled the party’s manifesto for the General Election next month with a series of housing pledges that also includes new powers for local councils to raise council tax by 500% on second homes and holiday lets.

Housing target

There is a target of 380,000 new homes built every year, after party members had fought off an attempt by the leadership to drop this.

Other commitments in the manifesto unveiled by Party Leader Ed Davey are financial incentives for developers to build on brownfield sites, and measures to take planning approval away if building doesn’t start.

Some of the main housing pledges in the Lib Dem manifesto are:

Build 10 new Garden Cities.

Remove dangerous cladding from all buildings, while ensuring that leaseholders do not have to pay a penny towards it.

Give local authorities new powers to control second homes and short-term lets in their areas, allowing them to increase Council Tax by up to 500%

Encourage development of existing brownfield sites with financial incentives

Introduce ‘use-it-or-lose-it’ planning permission for developers who refuse to build.

Properly fund local planning departments to improve planning outcomes and ensure housing is not built in areas of high flood risk without adequate mitigation, by allowing local authorities to set their own fees.

Industry reaction
Nathan Emerson, Chief Executive, Propertymark

Nathan Emerson, CEO at Propertymark, says: “It is encouraging to see housebuilding targets being taken seriously within the first manifesto released, especially a realisation that more social homes are required so that people have access to a greater provision of housing.

“Propertymark has always believed that ground rents should be capped, so it is good to see that similar proposals are being referenced in the Liberal Democrats’ manifesto,” he says.

“It will be interesting to see what mechanism they intend to use should they succeed in ending no-fault evictions.”

Anthony Codling, Managing Director, RBC Capital Markets

Anthony Codling, MD Equity Research at RBC Capital Markets, says: “On the whole the Liberal Democrats manifesto sets out a good news story for the housing market, homebuyers and homeowners.

“However, there are also several sticks among the housing carrots and landowners and housebuilders may not warm to all parts of the manifesto – in particular the beefing up of compulsory purchase orders, use it or lose it planning, and an immediate requirement for all new homes to be built to a zero carbon standard,” he says.

“The manifesto seeks to increase housing supply, but ‘use-it-or-lose-it’ planning and the build cost implications of an immediate net zero policy runs the risk of reducing supply.”

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