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Labour announces plans to boost small-scale housing schemes

A new Labour government would require local authorities to include a higher proportion of small sites in their five year housing land supply, shadow housing minister Emma Reynolds has announced. 

A 'Build First' scheme would be launched to provide a package of measures to allow smaller firms and custom builders to help deal with the national housing shortage, Reynolds said on Monday during a speech to the National House-Building Council.

"Our aim is to significantly boost the role of the smaller firms, and the self and custom build industry to help us reach our ambition of building at least 200,000 a homes a year by 2020," said Reynolds.

She said that both local and national government "too often" places a "huge" emphasis on large land sites whilst smaller sites are ignored. The Build First scheme would therefore give guaranteed access to public land to smaller firms and custom builders, and councils would be required to include more small sites for housing when setting out their five year land supply.

Reynolds said that a Housing Commission chaired by former BBC Trust chairman Sir Michael Lyons will be asked to set out a road-map and long-term strategy for how a Labour government could help secure a step change in the number of homes being built.

The shadow minister acknowledged that the UK's large housebuilders have an "essential" role to play in meeting housing need. However, she said that greater competition and diversity must be introduced "if we are to increase output, driving innovation and improving quality".

Reynolds also said that the range of new towns and garden cities Labour has committed to build would include a proportion of homes built by smaller firms and custom builders.

"Over the past 30 years governments of both parties haven’t done enough to build the homes our country so desperately needs," Reynolds said.

"Too often short-term decisions have been put before the long-term decisions needed to ensure this generation and the next can afford their own home. We need a government that will plan for the long-term and develop a housing strategy that has building more homes at its heart," she added.

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