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This motion develops policies to build on our existing commitment to a target of building 300,000 new homes a year by 2020. In particular it creates a new policy on the creation of a Housing Investment Bank and the development of a long-term plan to deliver our house building objective.
Existing policies on housing are set out in policy paper 104, Decent Homes For All (2012). Existing policies on land use planning are set out in policy motion Reform of Planning (March 2014).
F21: Building the Affordable Homes we Need
(Passed with Amendment 1)
Conference welcomes the measures in policy paper 104, Decent Homes For All (2012), and conference motion Reform of the Planning System (March 2014) to deliver up to 300,000 new homes a year, to give renters a new deal, increase the resilience of the house-building industry, give local authorities and social housing providers more powers to build, secure land for development at lower prices and remove underlying barriers to restoring house price stability.
Conference notes with concern:
i) The failure of the private sector, and of previous administrations, to deliver the homes that Britain needs.
ii) The far reaching consequences of a shortage of decent housing on economic growth, labour market mobility, education, social mobility, health and the shape of economic growth in the UK.
iii) The barriers to sustainable housing delivery including: an opaque land market, lack of both public and private finance, the capacity and competitiveness of the house building industry, integration of infrastructure provision, historical failures in design and planning, and inconsistent political will.
Conference celebrates the Liberal Democrat commitment to:
a) Freeing local authorities to build for the first time in a generation, bringing 102,000 empty homes back into use since 2010 and allowing councils to charge full Council Tax on second homes and empty homes.
b) Delivering long term strategic investment in infrastructure, to support economic growth outside of London.
c) Empowering local authorities to create new garden cities, towns, villages and neighbourhoods where there is local demand.
Conference therefore calls for:
1. Government investment to support a new generation of quality homes which are affordable even for those on low and middle incomes, including shared ownership, rent-to-buy and other intermediate tenures, where every monthly payment goes towards owning the house.
2. Creation of a new Housing Investment Bank to simplify the allocation of public funds, create the scale needed to draw in private investment and improve access to finance for social housing providers through traditional capital grant, soft loans and equity investment, bond issues and government guarantees; as part of this, including a 'challenge fund' to promote innovative solutions to the housing crisis, imbed long termism and ensure best value for the tax payer.
3. Local authorities being allowed to develop homes of a broad mix of tenures through local housing companies, outside of the Housing Revenue Account, retaining a local authority link.
4. Social landlords to be given more control over their businesses, to develop more genuinely affordable homes and enable more efficient use of their resources, by allowing greater rent flexibilities, lifting restrictions on how they value their stock and allowing them to take account of the whole cost of occupancy relating to heating costs to encourage landlords to invest to reduce heating costs and cut fuel poverty.
5. Urgent amendment of the New Towns Act to transfer its powers to Local Authorities to acquire land at above existing use value for the creation of new garden villages, neighbourhoods, towns and cities where appropriate to meet identified housing need, using the land uplift to deliver the highest quality, the infrastructure, and build thriving mixed communities at affordable prices whilst protecting existing communities from unnecessary, poorly-serviced and unpopular sequential development.
6. To increase capacity for house building to meet the 300,000 homes a year target, encourage the development of the offsite construction industry, continue and strengthen support for small and medium size builders, new entrants and self-build, and unlock Housing Association capacity by freeing up opportunities to access land through the new garden communities programme.
7. Planning authorities to be given the power to designate New Home Zones on strategic sites to generate low cost development and growth.
8. A large-scale apprenticeships and training programme to build skills capacity over a long period.
9. Within the first year of the next Parliament, publication of a long-term plan to set out how our house-building objectives will be met; to be overseen by a ministerial taskforce on housing, hosted by the Cabinet Office, ensuring that locally-led housing delivery is integrated into infrastructure delivery, welfare reform, rent strategy, demographic and environmental challenges and a wider growth agenda that spreads economic growth across the country.
10. Allow local housing authorities to suspend the right to buy in their area, or to substitute the right to acquire as held by tenants of Housing Associations, and conduct a full national review of the operation and consequences of the right to buy and right to acquire.
Applicability: England only, except 2 (lines 32-38) which is Federal.