Labour will build on green belt to boost housing, Starmer says


Labour will give local authorities more power to build on green belt land to meet their area’s housing needs if the party wins at the next general election, Sir Keir Starmer has said.

In an interview with The Times, the Labour leader accused the Conservatives of killing “the aspiration of homeowning for a whole generation” by removing housebuilding targets.

It comes ahead of a speech to the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) later today when he is expected to launch an attack on so-called NIMBYS (Not in my back yard) and vow to “be on the side of builders not blockers”.

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Sir Keir, who has also called for more onshore wind farms to be built in England, said the issue of the green belt “cannot be reduced to a simple discussion of will you or will you not” build on it.

“This is why it’s important for local areas to have the power to decide where housing is going to be,” he said.

He acknowledged that objections to housebuilding on the green belt are often valid “because the control by landowners and developers mean that the houses are proposed in areas where it’s quite obvious that there’s going to be a local concern”.

He said giving local authorities greater scope to decide would provide a solution.

Rishi Sunak has previously pledged to defend the green belt.

Last year the prime minister was also forced to drop plans for compulsory housebuilding targets in the face of a backlash from rebel backbench MPs and Tory activists.

Sir Keir will restate a commitment to bring back local housing targets.

“A generation and its hopes are being blocked by those who – more often than not – enjoy the secure homes and jobs that they’re denying to others,” he will say.

He will say his policy of backing “the builders not the blockers” extends beyond just new houses.

Sir Keir will pledge reforms to the planning system, saying it is holding back growth and leaving the economy “stuck in second gear”.

“You can’t be serious about raising productivity, about improving the supply-side capacity of our economy and about arresting our economic decline without a plan for the wind farms, the laboratories, the warehouses and the homes this country so desperately needs.”

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Sir Keir will set out five key economic shifts: giving economic stability and certainty, handing power to communities across the country, seizing the opportunities of the future, increasing security at work and building economic resilience.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt and Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey will also address the BCC gathering.

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