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Keir Starmer praised after vowing to ‘back the builders’

Labour Party leader Keir Starmer said Labour will “back the builders, not the blockers” – a message that has gone down well with the NFB House Builders Association.

The Labour leader has committed to bringing back housing targets, as well as debating housing and planning, including appreciating that not all of the greenbelt is sacrosanct.

He said: “We would make those tough choices and say to local areas, notwithstanding that it’s greenbelt, if it’s a car park or similar land which doesn’t affect the beauty of our countryside… then we’ll change the planning rules, we’ll give you the powers to do that.”

In response, the NFB House Builders Association’s head of housing and planning policy Rico Wojtulewicz reacted positively.

The association accused the governments’ reforms of being watered down, coupled with anti-development narratives that have struck a blow for levelling-up and housebuilders, especially SMEs.

Wojtulewicz said: “Finally, we are getting some nuanced conversation on housing and planning policy. While we disagree that builders decide supply, because this is the role of local plan making and allocations, the green belt is in place to stop urban sprawl, not hinder good placemaking.

“The government’s brownfield-first strategy is a good example of hindering good placemaking. It seeks to avoid using greenbelt by increasing urban populations on land set aside for non-housing needs. Yet with higher populations, where does non-housing infrastructure now go?

“Or do they just not get built, as is often the case today? Labour appear to have accepted that city boundaries must play a part in good placemaking and may be hinting at a greenbelt review, something the government turned down when Conservative backbenchers requested it.

“After an awful two years regarding housing and planning debate, we might be entering a period where the torch of ambition that existed under former Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick is being relit by the Labour party.”