Labour’s New Town plans: Angela Rayner fleshes out party’s vision

Daniel Green
Angela Rayner and Keir Starmer, as result counts get underway in the 2024 local elections.
Angela Rayner and Keir Starmer, as result counts get underway in the 2024 local elections.

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner will set out the party’s plans for the next generation of new towns “fit for the future” on Tuesday.

In a keynote speech to property industry leaders at the UK Real Estate Investment and Infrastructure Forum conference in Leeds, Rayner, who also serves as Shadow Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, will say Labour will “back developers who deliver” in a new era for private sector involvement in housing development.

Labour’s housing plans include a series of new towns, echoing those created by the Atlee government after the Second World War, with high standards for design, quality, affordable homes, green space and infrastructure.

If elected, the party aims to build 1.5m new homes across the country over the next parliament.

Rayner will say Labour will learn the lessons of the post-war period, where the government proactively planned for housing growth at a strategic scale.

She is expected to say: “Labour’s New Towns are just one part of our ambitious house-building agenda which will see swathes of good quality, affordable houses built in the national interest.

“Developers who deliver on their obligations to build high quality, well-designed and sustainable affordable housing, with green spaces and transport links and schools and GP surgeries nearby, will experience a new dawn under Labour. But those who have wriggled out of their responsibilities for too long will be robustly held to account.

“Labour’s towns of the future will be built on the foundations of our past. The post-war period taught us that when the government plays a strategic role in housebuilding, we can turbo-charge growth to the benefit of working people across Britain. That is what Labour’s plans will achieve.”

Rayner’s speech comes amid a collapse in the numbers of homes built under the Conservative government, with fewer than 70,000 planning applications approved in the last quarter of last year – the worst period on record, fewer than during the height of the pandemic.

Under Labour’s proposals, new homes will have to meet the highest standard of good design and sustainable living, the party says.

The “New Towns Code” would include a “gold standard target” of 40% affordable homes, including a mix of social and council homes, robust design codes that fit in with nearby areas, high density housing with good links to town and city centres, and access to nature and parks.

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