Labour accused of blocking plans to boost housebuilding

Minister Michael Gove said the Opposition party is ‘seeking to end the dream of homeownership for thousands of families by playing politics’.

Sophie Wingate
Tuesday 12 September 2023 21:21 BST
Labour has been accused of blocking reforms to encourage housebuilding (Andrew Matthews/PA)
Labour has been accused of blocking reforms to encourage housebuilding (Andrew Matthews/PA) (PA Wire)

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Labour has been accused of being the party of “the blockers not the builders” amid reports it could vote against Government plans to relax environmental rules to boost housebuilding.

The House of Lords is set to vote on Wednesday on scrapping EU-era rules that force housebuilders to mitigate the impact development has on river health.

Removing the requirements will “unblock” 100,000 new homes by 2030, according to ministers.

But environmental campaigners have said the change would allow developers to cut corners and lead to worse water pollution.

Current nutrient neutrality rules mean that when developers build new homes in protected areas they are required to provide mitigations to ensure no new additional nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus make it into rivers and lakes, where they can cause algal blooms that deprive other plants and animals of light and oxygen.

This requirement will be watered down to become guidance under the changes being proposed through an amendment to the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, currently going through the House of Lords.

Labour peers could reportedly vote against the measures.

Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove tweeted: “Today Labour claimed to be the party of homeownership yet tomorrow they plan to vote down laws that would unlock 100k homes.

“Sir Keir is seeking to end the dream of homeownership for thousands of families by playing politics.

“Labour are the party of the blockers not the builders.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has vowed to “back the builders, not the blockers” if his party gains power at the next general election.

Immigration minister Robert Jenrick said: “Labour’s commitment to planning reform has fallen at the first hurdle.”

Labour declined to comment.

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