A leading property sector adviser has lambasted the approach to housing and planning of both of the biggest political parties, saying the Conservative government lacks a credible champion for increasing housebuilding and advising Labour to look to London boroughs the party controls for examples of how to pursue the “radical” policies required.
Writing at LinkedIn, Peter Bingle, a former Tory councillor in Wandsworth who is founder and director of the influential Terrapin public affairs group, said that although Boris Johnson understands the “political and moral imperative” of his government’s proposed planning reforms he lacks a “big beast” to champion the goal of “delivering hundreds of thousands of new homes every year” and creating “a new generation of young home owners”.
Bingle was also critical of Labour’s attitude to the government’s plans, saying it has “cleverly but cynically” dubbed them a “developers’ charter” at a time when Labour boroughs such as Barking & Dagenham, Brent, Hounslow and Waltham Forest are “doing the business when it comes to delivering new homes” and therefore “transforming their local communities”.
He singled out shadow communities secretary Steve Reed, the MP for Croydon North and a former leader of Lambeth, for his contribution to Monday’s Commons debate about the issue. “Hearing him speak, my mind drifted back to those halcyon days when he was leader of Lambeth Council,”
Bingle, who has advised a number of Labour councils on their housing and planning policies, wrote: “Was this really the same Steve Reed who was now lambasting developers with such alacrity?” He suggested Reed visit the Labour councils he had praised and also the Tory flagship of Wandsworth and its leader Ravi Govindia.
Responding to the Liberal Democrats dramatic parliamentary by-election capture of Chesham & Amersham from the Tories with a campaign that played to local concerns about the government’s planning policy reforms, Bingle warned that such voters “need to understand that without new homes their children will never be able to afford to leave their plush leafy parental homes”.
He urged Johnson to put together a new team at the Ministry of housing, Communities and Local Government with a “populist” housing secretary to “take on the Nimbies” and win the argument for “building new homes for the next generation”. He said the current housing minister Christopher Pincher has “all the passion of a bank manager in a struggling suburban town”.
Labour’s social media campaign against the government’s plans argued that “local people, not Rory Party donors, should decide what’s best for where they live” – a reference to the financial backing the Conservatives receive from property firms – drew criticism from some Labour supporters in London, including Chris Worrall, co-editor of the influential Red Brick blog who characterised it as “advocating the status quo on steroids“.
Image: New housing in Barking & Dagenham.
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