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Labour vows to deliver highest level of new housing since the early 1970s

Labour believes it will deliver the highest level of new housing annually since the early 1970s within five years if it comes to power.

Sir Keir Starmer promised to build 1.5m homes, some of which will be in newly created towns, within his first term in parliament should he succeed in becoming elected.

As exclusively revealed by i, the Labour leader pledged to “bulldoze” through restrictions to housebuilding by setting out wide-ranging reforms to the planning system.

Sir Keir said the system was “a blockage that stops this country building roads, grid connections, laboratories, trainlines, warehouses, windfarms, power stations” and “an obstacle to the aspirations of millions”.

The plan to “get Britain building again” would “fight the blockers who hold a veto over British aspiration”, he added.

The 1.5 million homes promised would also involve new development corporations with powers to cut through red tape and the creation of the “next generation of Labour new towns”.

Speaking after the speech, Labour sources refused to state how many houses the party would build every year, but one senior source added: “It will definitely ramp up over time because we’ll be bumping along the bottom for a bit if we inherit the mess we will inherit.”

Another source said the housing plans would have “an exponential curve” to them, meaning a future Labour government will have to deliver well over 300,000 houses a year by the end of the parliament.

The last time the UK built more than 300,000 homes was back in the early 1970s, with the peak of 425,000 houses delivered in 1968.

Under the plans, Labour will devolve more decision making over planning to local mayors, while also creating a new “planning passport” that will fast-track development on urban brownfield land.

The party will also give first time buyers “first dibs” on small portions of new housing developments and offer them a new state-backed mortgage insurance scheme, based on models used in Australia and Canada.

The announcement comes after Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves unveiled plans this week to provide 300 extra planning officers and to force local authorities to quickly draw up local plans to deliver more housing.

But industry sources raised doubts that the measures would have the impact Labour have claimed, with one source telling i: “It is difficult to see how one planning officer per local authority would accelerate the local plan process which is famously difficult to do.”

The proposals were widely welcomed by the sector, however.

Kate Henderson, Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation, said: “Building new towns provides the opportunity to create high quality places with ambitious sustainability standards, much-needed affordable homes and better use of infrastructure. The post-war New Towns Programme has shown that building new communities can be good for the economy as well as society.”

Martin McTague, National Chair of the Federation of Small Businesses added: “Proposals to build the next generation of new towns will help the UK on its path to global competitiveness. This level of ambition can only be achieved by unleashing the potential of small housebuilding firms.”

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