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Member Briefing: Conservative Party Conference: PM puts home ownership at the centre of plan to build ‘a Greater Britain’ as he pledges reform of planning rules

Date: 07/10/15

Conservative Party Conference: PM puts home ownership at the centre of plan to build ‘a Greater Britain’ as he pledges reform of planning rules

The Prime Minister has delivered his closing speech to Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, using it to promote his party as the party of home ownership as he called for a ‘national crusade to get homes built’.

In his first Conference speech following the Conservatives’ election victory in May, Mr Cameron described the housing crisis as ‘the one big piece of unfinished business in our economy’. He announced that the Government would recast the definition of affordable housing so that discounted homes for sale could be delivered through developers’ affordable housing obligations.

Mr Cameron highlighted ‘a generation of hardworking men and women in the 20s and 30s waking up each morning in their childhood bedrooms’ before setting out his plan for altering the definition of affordable housing:

“For years, politicians have been talking about building what they call “affordable homes” – but the phrase was deceptive. It basically meant homes that were only available to rent.

What people want are homes they can actually own. After all, the officials who prepare the plans for the new homes, the developers who build them, the politicians who talk about them… most of these people own the homes they live in. Don’t they realise other people want what they’ve got – a home of their own?

So today, I can announce a dramatic shift in housing policy in our country.

Those old rules which said to developers: you can build on this site, but only if you build affordable homes for rent… we’re replacing them with new rules… you can build here, and those affordable homes can be available to buy.”

HBF comment:

In response to today’s announcement on a broadening of the definition of ‘affordable housing’, HBF Executive Chairman, Stewart Baseley said:

"We welcome the government's plans to deliver on its pledge to improve home ownership opportunities for young people. Over the past 25 years, as building new homes has become ever more costly and complex, output has fallen and the housing ladder has slipped further out of reach for many.

"Greater flexibility in the way affordable housing is provided should not only speed up the process of securing an implementable planning permission but also make more sites viable for new housing. This will in turn increase availability of homes of all types and help address the chronic shortage that has been allowed to develop. Housebuilders are committed to delivering high quality, low cost homes for a new generation of first-time buyers, if the policy environment allows them to."

The Prime Minister’s speech is available here.

Other news from Conservative Party Conference

Chancellor to take on vested interests opposing new homes

On Monday, Chancellor, George Osborne echoed the commitment to home ownership promising to take on vested interests to ensure more homes are built. He told the Conference Hall “’We’ve had enough of people who own their own home lecturing others why they can’t own one too.” Mr Osborne went on to say “This autumn we’ll direct our housing budget towards new homes for sale”.

The Chancellor announced the creation of a National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) chaired by former Labour peer, Lord Adonis. As well as providing independent advice to government on its three initial priorities: high speed rail (HS3) to connect northern cities, priorities for future investment in London’s public transport, and energy infrastructure, the Commission will also begin work on a 30 year national infrastructure assessment.

More information on the NIC can be found here.

The Chancellor’s speech to Conservative Party Conference can be read here.

Greg Clark speech

Communities Secretary, Greg Clark also addressed the Conference on Monday, to talk about Government plans to reverse the decline in home ownership. Quoting statistics that show an overwhelming majority of people would prefer to own their own home, Mr Clark said: 

“For years, governments have talked about affordable homes– but in my view not enough of them have been homes to buy. It’s time to put that right… Homes for rent will always have a role but why should signing a tenancy agreement mean signing away your aspirations to have a home you can own?”

The Secretary of State’s speech is available to read here.

HBF activity

The Home Builders Federation hosted a number of events at the Conference. Speakers at our events included Greg Clark MP; Housing Minister, Brandon Lewis MP; Northern Powerhouse Minister, James Wharton MP; Local Government Minister, Marcus Jones MP; and John Howell MP who was recently asked by the government to review the local plan making process as well as many council leaders and councillors.


David O'Leary

Policy Director