Grantham MP calls for extra government powers to boost cheaper housing

Nick Boles MP
Nick Boles MP

Nick Boles has called for further government intervention in the house building industry.

The Grantham MP told parliament on Tuesday that governments of all parties have failed to build enough houses for 20 years.

Problems are blamed on a free-market but to counter “unstoppable urban sprawl” when 300,000 homes were built every years, government in the 1930s “made the most extraordinary intervention” by forcing landowners to apply to government for planning permission.

However, this led to the major house builders eking out their supply for as long as possible to keep prices as high as possible, creating ever high house prices.

Now, government needs to intervene further to ensure the country produces “enough truly affordable housing units.”

Other MPs might prefer a more free-market model but Mr Boles warned whilst this would create more and cheaper housing, “we would have cities merging” and “we would lose huge swathes of precious English countryside.”

Instead, government should give itself the power to intervene to acquire land at a price “fair to the community as well as the landowner.”

“Why should landowners benefit from the fluke that gives them planning permission to build on their own land when none of their neighbours receive it? Why should the taxpayer bear the cost of the infrastructure- the roads, the sewerage and the schools- that makes land developable in the first place.”

Mr Boles called for government to be able to buy land at a “reasonable price” of a small multiple of its agricultural land value as happened with Milton Keynes and other new towns, using the uplift in land values to fund infrastructure.

He also demanded government ensure builders develop on agreed timescales or be “asked” to offer sites to others if they refuse.