Housing plays key role in secondary parties’ election plans

Following the release of both the Labour and Conservative Party manifestos, the Liberal Democrats, Green Party and UKIP have all now outlined their alternative plans for the future of the UK.

As with the top two parties, all three marginal political parties have focused heavily on housing in their own manifestos. The Liberal Democrats have set out an ambitious target of building 300,000 homes a year – including ten new Garden Cities – with plans for how this will be accomplished set out in the first year of a Lib Dem Parliament. The party would remove exemptions in the Zero Carbon Standard for new homes, with the standard steadily increasing before being extended to non-domestic buildings.

The Coalition Party’s housing policy would also include a requirement for local authorities to make a 15 year housing plan for their respective areas, to include provision of meeting local demand for self-build plots. Nick Clegg’s party would also scrap plans to exempt smaller housing development schemes from their obligation to provide affordable homes.

The balance between promoting new house-building and improving current stock has met with approval from the Federation of Master Builders. Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said: “The Liberal Democrats have dedicated ten pages of their manifesto document to housing and have pledged to build 300,000 new homes a year to meet the current demand for new homes, while also addressing the backlog. This shows the Party understands that the housing crisis is one of the greatest challenges our country faces.

“We particularly welcome their equal focus on improving our existing homes, which is essential if we are to maximise the existing stock and at the same time, meet our ambitious carbon reduction targets. The next Government must get its approach to new and existing homes absolutely right if we have any hope of solving the housing crisis.”

The Green Party’s plans go further, with plans to provide 500,000 social rented homes with high sustainability standards by 2020. All these new homes would be built to Passivhaus standards, while the party would also attempt to bring half of the UK’s empty homes back into use, as well as diversify the house-building industry to ensure more homes are built by SMEs.

Natalie Bennett’s party would also end the Conservative’s main housing policy of Right to Buy, as well as scrap Help to Build, which the Greens say ?does nothing to help those in the greatest housing need and contributes to excessive demand.’

UKIP has also committed to bringing empty homes back into use, and would identify and release dormant land owned by national and local government for the use of affordable housing. Unlike the Greens, Nigel Farage would support the continuation of Right to Buy, with the condition that 100% of revenues be spent on new community housing after unidentified ?essential costs have been paid back’.

All three party manifestos include plans to support the conversion of brownfield land for housing use, with UKIP planning to replace the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) with new guidelines that would prioritise brownfield land for new homes.

In an attempt to tackle the energy efficiency of the UK’s current housing stock, the Liberal Democrats would

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