Sir Keir accused conservatives of “killing the dream” of owning a home for a generation. Credit: Ian Forsythe/Getty Images
Sir Keir Starmer insisted that Labor would defend the “beauty of the countryside” despite a promise to relax regulations to allow houses to be built on greenbelt lands.
Leader The opposition leader said his party will give local authorities and residents more power to build houses in protected areas to meet local housing needs if he wins the keys to House No. 10.
But he has since tried to reassure voters that construction will only be allowed where there is no threat to natural beauty.
He said councils should be able to “point out where housing is located” to prevent cases where green belt rules eventually force intuitive solutions to counteract.
Speaking to Times Radio on Wednesday, Sir Keir said: “We all want to protect the green belt. We have fantastic countryside… I know how important this is. But we have to face the fact that we are already building on pieces of the green belt, that is where we are building.
“I want to give you one example to try and explain what I mean. . In Maidstone, the houses were built on the playing field rather than the car park because technically the car park was in green space and the playing field was not.
“I don't think anyone cares about our villagers felt would be a good idea.
“We would make this difficult choice and tell the local areas, despite the fact that this is a green belt, if it is a car park or similar land that does not affect the beauty of our countryside that we all want to preserve, then we will change the planning rules, we we'll give you the authority you need.”
“We want to make sure that many more houses are built and the price comes down.” @Keir_Starmer tells #TimesRadio that if Labor comes to power, they will lower house prices as part of the Housing Development Scheme. pic.twitter.com/vsLEvvwES9
— Times Radio (@TimesRadio), May 17, 2023
In an interview with The Times, Sir Keir accused the Conservatives of “killing the dream” of an entire generation of owning a home.
He vowed to step down beyond just restoring mandatory housing construction indicators, saying that the current situation is “essentially broken.”
Regarding the taboo on green belt development, he said, “We need to discuss it.”
“But this cannot be reduced to a simple discussion of whether you will or will not build a green belt. That's why it's important that local communities have the right to decide where housing will be located.
“Very often, people's objections to building houses in the green belt are justified, because control by landowners and developers mean that houses offered in areas where it is clear that there will be a local problem.
“Give local authorities, local areas more power to decide where they will be, and you will alleviate this problem. So it's not as binary or as simple as “green belt, not green belt”. It's how you determine where housing will be located.”
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak previously accused Sir Keir of wanting to “concrete the green belt and suppress local communities.”
In December Last year, ministers abandoned mandatory housing targets after an uprising of more than 100 Conservative MPs who threatened to block an amendment that would force the government to rescind them.