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Labour unveils plans to give local people housing priority

Labour leader Ed Miliband has announced new measures aimed at raising construction levels and protecting the interests of local people in the housing market.These reforms are designed to ensure the party is able to meet its commitment to building 200,000 new homes a year by 2020 and doubling the number of first-time buyers over the next decade.Mr Miliband has made headlines in recent months with claims that too much land is being held as speculative investments rather than being used for construction.He has also claimed that new developments are often bought up before local people are able to benefit, and this can undermine support for new schemes.Under the reforms, local authorities would have the power to establish Housing Growth Areas, which would be able to assemble land and provide the certainty needed to ensure construction takes place.Councils would also be required to have a local plan to meet the needs of communities in their area. The planning inspectorate would have powers to intervene if they did not develop local plans or allocate sufficient land for housing.Local authorities would be granted powers to set aside a proportion of homes built in Housing Growth Areas for first-time buyers in the area, who would be given priority access for a period of two months.They would also be able to restrict the sale of homes in these areas to prevent them being sold as buy-to-let or buy-to-leave empty properties."Only Labour has a plan to build the homes that our country, our local communities and our families need," Mr Miliband said."This is not only a fairer system, it is also one which will encourage local communities and local authorities to support the development that our country so desperately needs," he added.The Labour leader's announcement drew criticism from the Conservatives, however, who claimed that the opposition is "addicted to top-down planning" and that its fondness for red tape would lower the rate of housebuilding. 

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