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Today the Labour party announced its plans to select new town sites by end of first year in government

To do this, Labour proposes to set up a New Town Commission within six months of a Labour government coming into power, which will prioritise the delivery of housing and infrastructure development to support new communities. At the heart of the plan is the provision of 40% affordable housing in these New Towns, which would help to address the housing needs of all segments of society.

However, the task of creating New Towns and developing housing at such a rapid pace is not without its challenges. The political hurdles that come with development on the edge of settlements and the release of Green Belt, is something that has been very difficult for the incumbent Government to deliver. Conservative voters, who tend to live and oppose development in these areas, have been a significant roadblock to progress for the Government over the last 14 years. The decision by Labour to reclassify low-quality areas of Green Belt land for development, known as Grey Belt, is a controversial move that will likely face opposition from environmental groups and local residents. However, it is a necessary first step to release the most sustainably located land for much-needed housing. Tough decisions like this will be crucial if Labour is to meet its ambitious housing targets.

The reintroduction of housing targets in England and reforms to the planning system are welcomed and are an important component of any plan to address the housing crisis. Without mandatory housing targets and a streamlined planning process, it will be impossible to deliver 300,000 homes per year.

It is also vital that Labour works with the private sector to fund the development of these new towns. While the Government can provide support and incentives for developers to build affordable housing, ultimately it will be private investment that drives the growth of new communities. By creating a positive environment for developers and ensuring that land values reflect the need to build affordable housing, New Towns can make significant progress in addressing the housing crisis.

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