Ed Miliband promises to build 200,000 homes a year – is that feasible?

Following Labour leader Ed Miliband’s promise to relieve Britain’s housing crisis by building 200,000 a year if his party regains power, Richard Carr is sceptical about whether such claims are feasible.

Miliband promises to double the number of first-time buyers

Richard Carr on Ed Miliband's housing pledge

Ed Miliband

Richard Carr is an expert in the residential development sector and has over 30 years of experience in securing planning for residential and commercial property.

He took particular attention to Ed Miliband’s party conference speech in Brighton on Tuesday, understanding the impact that political decisions can have on his industry. Carr questions Miliband’s ability to achieve his forecast of 200,000 new homes per year, knowing the difficulties of firstly finding available land to build upon and then achieving the required planning permission.

What the Labour briefing said

Reporting from the party conference, the Guardian picked out the key points from Miliband’s housing pledge:

“Housebuilding has reached its lowest level in peacetime since the 1920s and the dream of home ownership is slipping out of reach for millions of young families, with the number of first-time buyers under this government averaging less than 200,000 a year.”

Miliband promised: “Meet demand for new homes for the first time in half a century – doubling the number of first-time buyers getting on to the housing ladder a year.”

Is it possible?

On a positive note, Richard believes it is good to see that Miliband is serious about housing, but surely his plans aren’t viable? Housing starts fell to their lowest ever under New Labour last time.

Any industry expert would tell you that there simply isn’t enough readily available sites to build another 200,000 homes a year, and what is more puzzling is where are the mortgages going to come from for people to buy them, as most people do not pass Mark Carney’s acid test?

Furthermore, there is the issue of the ‘Green Belt’, well there is one solution which planners will ‘hate’, go higher! Yes, please.

Additionally, local authorities are under increasing scrutiny by the electorate who detest the concreting over, like I do of the countryside.

Much needs to be done to improve the current UK housing issue, but in Richard Carr’s opinion, these claims aren’t possible, like so much that comes from the lips of Labour.