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Liberal Democrats

F20: Building Communities

Submitted by: 44 members

Mover: Tom Morrison.

Summation: Laura Gordon.

Conference notes that:

  1. House prices in the UK continue to rise relative to average incomes.
  2. Rent or mortgage payments are the largest living cost that most households in the UK face.
  3. 788,000 households in England were living in overcrowded conditions from 2016-2019.
  4. 17% of households in England live in a home that lacks modern facilities, has no effective insulation or heating, or is in a state of disrepair.
  5. Only 14% of UK towns are currently considered affordable for key workers such as nurses, doctors and teachers.
  6. Polling undertaken by Shelter revealed that 48% of people were supportive of more housing being built in their local areas, with 30% opposed.

Conference believes that:

  1. The UK is currently experiencing a housing crisis, and this crisis is impacting people's freedom to start a family, live a healthy and dignified life when they get old, and is having an adverse effect on social mobility.
  2. The proposed Conservative planning reforms run roughshod over local communities and are not the right solution to the housing crisis.
  3. There is a desperate need for an alternative, liberal approach to providing more housing.
  4. Everybody deserves the right to a secure roof over their head that they can afford, therefore tackling this issue is a moral imperative.
  5. The key to solving the housing crisis is providing more affordable good quality housing.
  6. The most effective way to achieve house building is with the consent and active involvement of our local communities.
  7. New homes should be well designed, of good quality and contribute to a sense of pride in the local area.
  8. Providing homes for the next generation is essential in order to create sustainable communities, with thriving shops, schools and public services.

Conference calls for:

  1. The Liberal Democrats to advocate for more house building UK wide by:
    1. Committing to a national target of 380,000 new homes per year.
    2. Ensuring that at least 150,000 of these homes are available for social rent.
  2. Local authorities to take the lead on house building by:
    1. Reforming the 1961 Land Compensation Act to give local authorities the power to acquire landbanked land from housing developers at its 'current use value', in order to be used to meet the community's need for housing.
    2. Increasing local authority compulsory purchase powers.
    3. Identifying areas for development in consultation with the local community, then acquiring this land and planning all necessary infrastructure including roads, utilities and green spaces.
    4. Only once all the infrastructure is planned, to allow developers or housing associations to bid for plots and to start building.
  3. More land to be freed up for housing by:
    1. Reaffirming our party's commitment to a Land Value Tax collected by local authorities as a replacement for Business Rates, to disincentivize land banking by developers.
    2. Introducing penalties for developers who fail to develop land that has been given full planning permission.
    3. Introducing a condition that any plots sold as set out above in 2 d) must be built upon on schedule, and if the developers fail to do this after a certain amount of time, then they will become open to bids from other developers who can start building immediately.
  4. New house building to be combined with our desire to tackle the climate emergency by:
    1. A net-zero whole-life carbon condition to be imposed on all new development.
    2. Requiring all new developments to be insulated to modern safe and efficient standards with adequate ventilation and shade to prevent urban heat stress in heatwaves.
    3. Encouraging development plans to include green space within walking distance, as well as solar panels and electric car charging points where possible.
    4. Reaffirming our party's commitment to establish a Green Investment Bank, in order to retrofit millions of existing homes.

Applicability: England only; except 1. (lines 36-40), which is Federal (except that Scottish and Welsh Liberal Democrats set their own specific targets for housebuilding).