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Labour Pledges to Bring Back UK Housebuilding Targets If Elected

(Bloomberg) -- The UK’s main opposition Labour Party will pledge to reinstate local housing targets to spur construction as it tries to claim political territory vacated by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Conservatives.

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“We choose the builders, not the blockers; the future, not the past; renewal not decline,” Labour leader Keir Starmer will say at a speech in London on Wednesday, according to his office. “We choose growth.”

Read More: UK Home Buyers Thwarted by System That Can’t Build Enough Houses

Housebuilding has been a contentious issue for the Tories amid an acute shortage in Britain. Sunak’s government dropped plans for mandatory construction targets in the face of a rebellion by rank-and-file Tory members of Parliament last year, even though it was already falling far short of its pledge to build 300,000 new homes a year.

Opposition to more homebuilding has largely been driven by Conservative MPs in rural seats who argue that more development threatens the environment and can spoil an area’s character. But Housing Secretary Michael Gove said Tuesday that more needs to be done to help people get on the property ladder, and that “there simply aren’t enough homes in this country.”

On Wednesday, Starmer will say his party — which holds a double-digit lead over the Tories in most surveys — would reform the planning system and change rules to accelerate infrastructure projects and commercial development if it wins the next general election.

Read More: Sunak Under Pressure to Boost Housing Supply After Election Loss

“We’ll remove the veto used by big landowners to stop shovels hitting the ground,” Starmer is due to say. “A generation and its hopes are being blocked by those who - more often than not - enjoy the secure homes and jobs that they’re denying to others.”

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