Only ‘radical’ Government intervention can help solve housing crisis in Leeds and elsewhere

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Leeds council development bosses have written to the Government to demand “radical” changes in policy - and the opening up of building rules - to help plug the city’s growing homes crisis.

It comes in the wake of the Government’s Housing White Paper, which admitted that the industry was dominated by volume house builders.

Responding to the key findings in the report, Leeds City Council claims in a new housing report that the policy document has “missed key opportunities to fundamentally address market failures” and to “boost regeneration including the reuse of brownfield land through more specific interventions and to support housing growth”.

Leeds aims to build 70,000 homes by 2028 to plug a growing shortage, but says it has been consistently hampered by national policy and a market skewed in favour of volume house builders rather than the specific needs of communities.

Critics say the authority’s own housing projections are way too high.

In a letter to the Secretary of State, the council demands that any new policy is made “more radical in its approach” and “urgent step changes” are needed to reverse the situation.

And it urges Ministers to “more directly challenge” the construction industry to get on with building homes.

The letter points out that at a local level, Leeds has tried its best to boost building, especially in inner city areas, east Leeds and the city centre.

However it adds: “These efforts need to be enhanced and accelerated by lasting structural changes and interventions ...to urgently help stimulate the market, boost the supply of housing and to deliver the new homes which are needed.”

The letter asks for more powers for councils to allocate sites for affordable housing themselves – as they currently do for travellers or older people - rather than waiting for Government sign-off on every site.

“This would have an enabling impact on the market,” it says, adding: “The Government rightly accepts that a reliance on the volume house building industry to deliver the right level of homes needed of the right type and in the right locations cannot be sustained.

“However, the Government remains preoccupied with amendments to the planning system as a means of remedying delivery rather than fundamentally changing the structure and balance of the market or more directly challenging the responsibility and methods of the house building industry to make up for current shortfalls in housing.”

Sarah Champion MP

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